For some, it is a platform to showcase their talent on the big stage. For others, it is a chance to regain lost footing. Either way, the sixth edition of the IPL will see 12 talented locals turn out for various franchises in the hope of doing a Yuvraj or a Harbhajan. And, in the process, spread the flavour of Punjab across India.
Amidst all the clamour, corruption and a system busting out at seams, the arrival of two things in India are anticipated with bated breath. The first is monsoon, essential for the existence of the subcontinent, and the second is the high-octane dose of the Indian Premier league (IPL). During the two monsoon months, it never rains --- it pours. Ditto is the case with the IPL. With 76 matches stretched over two months providing non-stop dose of cricket, each season there have been a few fortunate ones who have managed to jump out of the endless scoresheets and make a name for themselves in the middle of whole gamut of top international stars.
The tournament sees a star born every season. Ask Manpreet Singh Gony, Rahul Sharma, Paul Valthaty and Manvinder Bisla and they will swear by the league, which has pulled them out of their mundane existence of just being a domestic cricketer plying their trade inside empty stadiums to being IPL stars. With the new season kick-starting on April 3, the 12 players from Punjab (that is, other than Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh) will not only be hoping to grab the limelight but for some it will be case of regaining and reaffirming their past status.
Apart from providing a unique platform for the young players to showcase their talent in front of massive crowds and full media glare, the league also gives them an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the greatest players of the game.
It’s a heady mix and many young brains have faltered. Take the case of Mumbai Indians' Sarul Kanwar. Once an integral member of the Punjab Ranji squad, the batsman is nowhere to be seen now, while players like Sunny Sohal have managed to grab their last chance after being picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore. The blitz, the city-hopping and back-to-back games all take their toll on teams, and with the pace at which the game is played, young legs also become vital ingredients for the teams.
Last year, he was as an obscure wicketkeeper and a batsman but today many in Kolkata Knight Riders' camp will be hoping for Manvinder Bisla to do an encore. Similar is the case with Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh, who hit a purple patch and single-handedly guided the team to many wins. Gony in the inaugural edition and Sharma in 2011 made a name for themselves which saw them being picked for Team India.
For IPL veterans like Gony (now KXIP) and Pune Warriors' Sharma, it will be a chance to regain their past glory, while for some like Sohal, it will be a chance to prove their worth as cricketers after being shunned by their home state. For others like Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma, the task will be to replicate their Ranji form which saw them taking wickets in heaps. But for all practical purposes, whether or not these youngsters get a chance to showcase their skills will depend on the team strategy and, more so, the unavailability of more established talent.