By Nishad Pai Vaidya
The Indian Premier League (IPL) transcends national boundaries brings players from around the globe on one platform. Perhaps the biggest positive to emerge out of the IPL is that young Indian talent gets to rub shoulders with some of best players in the world. In doing so, they get a huge opportunity to make an impression and get noticed on the big stage. IPL 2012 has witnessed a flood of young Indian players who have broken the shackles and made a reputation for themselves. Let us have a look at some of these men who have lit up the tournament and given it a domestic flavour.
Mayank Agarwal’s latest knock of 64 off 30 balls highlighted his destructive abilities with proper cricketing strokes. For a youngster who hasn’t played international cricket and is a relatively unknown commodity, it isn’t easy to hold on to a spot in a batting line-up that contains celebrated names like Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. However, Agarwal has looked a part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore setup and cemented his spot in the line-up. The fact that he is playing ahead of Indian players such as Cheteshwar Pujara and Mohammad Kaif speaks volumes of the trust Bangalore have in him.
Agarwal has represented India Under-19s and is yet to make his First-Class debut. He is making an impression in the IPL, but for higher honours he needs to excel in domestic cricket. Despite a few failures in the middle, Bangalore persisted with him; obviously it’s indicative of their belief in his latent talent.
While Agarwal shines in the IPL and is waiting for a First-Class debut, Mandeep Singh – Agarwal’s former India U-19 teammate - continues to make a waves. Since promoted as opener, Mandeep has done very well for his team Kings XI Punjab. As the season has progressed, he has picked up his performance and generally gets his team off to good starts. His knock of 75 against Deccan Chargers was brilliant with textbook shots. He averages a brilliant 63.17 in 13 First-Class games. The challenge for him would be to maintain the tempo and strive for the India cap in the near future.
Mandeep’s teammate Parwinder Awana has been a revelation for Punjab. Awana steams in and bowls at a brisk pace. There have been times when he has been expensive, but it is good to see an Indian fast-bowler making a mark. In the company of Praveen Kumar, he would have a lot to learn about seam bowling. Indian fans would hope that he sustains his pace as it would further the hopes raised by Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron.
In the absence of Adam Gilchrist, Nitin Saini has taken on the gloves for Punjab and has done a respectable job. Although his batting numbers aren’t the best, Saini has displayed his talent in some of the games. Gilchrist is 40 and may call it a day anytime. Punjab may consider grooming Saini for the role and invest in him as a long term asset.
The ongoing IPL has seen a number of left-arm spinners doing well and dominating the batsmen. Shahbaz Nadeem of Delhi Daredevils was brilliant in the first half of the tournament as his economical spells troubled the best in business. He wasn’t afraid to toss it up and invite the batsman forward. However, in recent games he has struggled to replicate his early success and has been expensive.
Pawan Negi, another left-armer with Delhi has played only three games this season and bowled in two of them. In his last game, which was against Rajasthan Royals, Negi bowled a fantastic spell of 4 for 18 that derailed the opposition. Sadly, he is waiting for another go in the IPL.
Debabrata Das of Kolkata Knight Riders is gradually building a reputation as a dangerous batsman. Gautam Gambhir’s gesture of handing over his man-of-the-match award to Das during the game against Chennai highlighted the captain’s faith in him. Das hasn’t scored big runs, but usually remains unbeaten at the end and is involved in some late hitting for Kolkata. A promotion up the order may bring the best out of him – a move Kolkata may mull for the next season.
Players like Ajit Chandila (Rajasthan) and Gurkeerat Singh have starred in the latest games for their respective teams and promise a lot for the coming games. Chandila’s off- spinners rattled Pune as he picked up a hat-trick. Chandila is a tall-off spinner and it was good to see that variety flourishing after numerous left-armer success stories.
Gurkeerat’s dazzling knock helped Punjab steal victory from the jaws of defeat against Deccan. The most heartening aspect of his batting was his temperament. On a big stage, he could have gotten overawed facing the world’s best fast bowler. However, he capitalised on the opportunity and became a hero. These two now have the task of matching the success of some of the other Indian domestic players in the IPL.
While we laud these emerging talents and appreciate their achievements, it is imperative that one doesn’t get carried away. Season after season, there have been numerous players who have shined but have fallen by the wayside in the years that followed. Players like Kamran Khan, Manpreet Gony, Swapnil Asnodkar, Paul Valthaty etc. haven’t matched the high standards they set for themselves in the previous editions. These players were looked at for bigger things, but those performances haven’t been replicated.
At the same time, there are players who continue to build on their reputation every season and succeed in raising the bar. Pragyan Ojha’s performances in IPL 2008 brought him the limelight and fast-tracked his selection into the Indian team. Since then he has moved from strength to strength and has established himself as a first-choice left-arm spinner for India. Ambati Rayudu has shown his match-winning abilities for Mumbai in previous seasons and is shining in the ongoing IPL. The emerging stars of this IPL can look up to Ojha and Rayudu for inspiration and hope to walk similar paths in the future.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)