(From left) Robin Uthappa, Lokesh Rahul and Manish Pandey have played a few crucial knocks so far in IPL 7 © IANS
(From left) Robin Uthappa, Lokesh Rahul and Manish Pandey have played a few crucial knocks so far in IPL 7 © IANS

 

Karnataka were the winners of the Ranji, Irani and Vijay Hazare trohpies in India’s last domestic season. In spite of this tremendous achievement, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) felt it unnecessary to invest in a single player from Karnataka. Shiamak Unwalla takes a look at how the Karnataka players have performed so far in Indian Premier League (IPL) 7, and analyses whether they would, in fact, have benefitted from having a few local players.

 

To say that so far in the 2014 edition of the IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have flattered to deceive, would be akin to saying that Ishant Sharma is not quite the leader of the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) pace attack. Rather than stating glaring facts, let us attempt to analyse why RCB have struggled.

 

The collective average of the top six batsmen in all of RCB’s matches so far has been 23.05 runs per batsman. There have also been a total of four fifties in the eight matches RCB have played. Now, a quick comparison with players from Karnataka will tell us whether they have done better or worse. Bear in mind, the RCB batsmen include names like Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, and Parthiv Patel.

 

Perhaps the more astute owners will understand that they need their local talent in order to do well, and take a leaf out of Kings XI Punjab’s (KXIP) book.

 

The five Karnataka batsmen in question: Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, and CM Gautam. Combined, the five of these batsmen have scored 907 runs so far, at an average of 27.2 runs per batsman. That is a whopping 4.15 runs more per batsman, which comes down to around 18-20 runs more per innings.

 

Now obviously, these figures don’t tell the full story. Statistics rarely do. For instance, they do not take into consideration match situations or pitch conditions. However, what the numbers do say unequivocally is that the Karnataka batsmen are certainly more proficient than the RCB management seemed to think.

 

By not choosing a single Karnataka player, RCB followed a rather worrying trend in the IPL that has seen teams with little to no real local talent. What is strange is that many of these sides actually have very good domestic talent. Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav has been making waves for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), but was not taken by his home side. Manoj Tiwary and LR Shukla have been perpetual fixtures in the Bengal set-up, but were both snapped up by the Daredevils. Rajat Bhatia and Mithun Manhas have been stalwarts of the Delhi Ranji side for years, but the Daredevils showed no interest in them at all. Both Manhas and Bhatia have performed admirably for their respective IPL teams. And then there’s Virender Sehwag. Shunned by the Daredevils, he has performed consistently for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at the top of the order, and has far outscored the DD openers.

 

The list could go on and on, but the fact is that a side like RCB, which is currently struggling to stay afloat in this competition, would have benefitted from hiring players from their own backyard. With a little more faith in their own domestic cricketers, most of the sides could actually have been better balanced.

 

Perhaps the more astute owners will understand that they need their local talent in order to do well, and take a leaf out of Kings XI Punjab’s (KXIP) book. With Sandeep Sharma, Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra, they have looked the side with the best bench strength by far. No wonder that they are also currently the table toppers.

 

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)