Post IPL 2012, plenty of options available for the national selectors

Despite performing consistently since past few seasons and proving to be match-winner for Mumbai Indians, Ambati Rayudu is still waiting in the sidelines for a national call-up © AFP

By Abhijit Banare

 

Every season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has thrown up a new set of talented Indian players, most of them relatively unheard of. After two months of fame recede away, cricket is back again to square one for such players. However, this year with tour of Sri Lanka is followed by T20 World Cup ahead, it’s time the Indian selectors blink and groom this talent to build a stable pool of players at least for T20 and ODI instead of fiddling with players who warm the bench only to be dropped a series later.

 

 

Opportunity

India will tour Sri Lanka in July-August for a series of five ODI’s and a solitary T20 match. The selectors couldn’t have asked for a better platform to test new players, who according to them have the potential to excel in international cricket. Hence, this series will be very important for such players to repay the faith and affirm their chance to stay in the squad not just for World T20 but for the future as well. Though the squad to Sri Lanka will be very much a dress rehearsal for the team to be picked for the grand event to be held in September, another series against New Zealand at home preceding it will be crucial in testing new talent as well.

 

Below are a few players whose names will be ringing at the doors of the selectors for the shorter format of the game. While some of them are serious contenders, the others might just be lucky to secure a chance.

 

 

Ajinkya Rahane

Among the ones who have set the IPL 5 on fire, Rahane looks certain to make the cut and this time he would be hoping for a smoother run after being dropped from the national side despite impressive performances earlier. Hailed as the next Rahul Dravid of Indian team, his capability to steer the innings even in the shortest format will be valued under an aggressive opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag.

 

Parvinder Awana

For Awana, after an impressive domestic season, he has been screaming with pace at the batsmen picking up wickets and putting the opposition on the backfoot in IPL. Along with Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, a new crop of genuine fast bowlers have arrived who need to be looked after carefully to build into an asset or else it will be the same old story of ‘promising prospect dropped after failure’. Awana has been so successful that he has overshadowed Ashok Dinda’s silent strides waiting for a longer run in the national team.

 

Ambati Rayudu

The reason why Rayudu needs to be seriously considered is solely because of his ability to play a mature innings during crisis and finish the innings with brisk pace when needed. In a game of cricket it isn’t necessary for all batsmen to go out there and aim to score a hundred, but those in lower order need to put the extra effort to take the team past the line, a role which Yuvraj Singh executes with perfection. And Rayudu has shown enough evidence of his capability to handle pressure not only in this edition of IPL but in previous two editions as well. The role of a finisher suits him perfectly. Though India doesn’t have an issue with wicketkeeper, Rayudu can also sum up as a reliable second option.

 

 

Rajat Bhatia

His career looks similar to Subramaniam Badrinath – plenty of runs accumulated in domestic season yet waiting in the wings. For a long time the team has been devoid of an all-rounder bowling with medium pace. And they haven’t looked beyond Irfan Pathan in this aspect. Bhatia’s shrewd approach while bowling and an impressive batting average of 48.20 in domestic cricket are exceptional. His contribution to have been vital in the success of Kolkata Knight Riders

 

Players like Mandeep Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Shahbaz Nadeem will be discussed, but it takes more than just a great IPL season to make oneself count among the best. Before IPL 5, Rajasthan opener Aakash Chopra had hinted that Mandeep’s talent suits perfectly for T20 and his success wouldn’t come as a surprise more so after scoring more than 1000 runs in his 11 First-Class matches. However, He will be fortunate if he gets rewarded for his consistent performance this year.

 

While Shikhar Dhawan continues to impress, he has been guilty of throwing his wicket away most of the times. Though he has been successful for Deccan Chargers this season, his recent figures in domestic season hasn’t been good enough. Yet, Dhawan can make the cut if he sustains his IPL performance during the India A tour of West Indies, which will also be crucial for Rahane to reaffirm his position.

 

Inserting a set of fresh faces will also put forward a challenge to players who have somehow managed to save their places with good performance in patches. Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Vinay Kumar are some of them. However, the place of a spinner will be an interesting tussle as Ravichandran Ashwin has struggled not only in IPL 2012 but in two tournaments that preceded it. This might just be an opening for the likes of Pragyan Ojha and Piyush Chawla, but the latter has been guilty of leaking plenty of runs.

 

 

As compared to last few Test series debacles, Indians haven’t fared badly in the shorter format of the game, but it hasn’t been successful either. Unless officials at the top look to nurture step by step, things won’t improve. It would be flying in the face of logic to find quality players to replace seniors all of a sudden in the years to come. Hence it’s necessary to be prepared for, rather than wait for a situation to arise. A successful experiment in the shorter format will be a good sign for the team which can rub off in Test matches.

 

(Like most Indians, Abhijit Banare has been obsessed with cricket since childhood. He is an avid follower, smitten by statistics and analysis. A journalism student in Mumbai, he considers himself lucky to have grown up watching batting legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. He also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)