The World Cup won, the national selectors are back on the job. With an eye on India's packed schedule this summer, they are watching select matches of the IPL to scout for potential replacements if some of the first-team players get injured or want rest.
The size of the League (10 teams play in 12 venues across India) means the five selectors will watch the matches individually, instead of watching them together or forming teams of 2 or 3. They will pick matches involving players who have been on the fringes of the national team and those who have played in one format or the other.
The aim is to earmark the ones who can step in to the national team whenever there is a vacancy because of injury or fatigue.Burnout problem
If you thought the IPL came too soon after the World Cup final (there was a five-day break), think again. India's first match on their tour of the West Indies, a T20 International, takes place on June 4, six days after the IPL final on May 28. That will start a sequence of international fixtures that will see India play seven Tests and 10 one-dayers over three months in the West Indies and England.
And with IPL 4 itself comprising 74 matches in 51 days, player burnout is a possibility. Already there are reports that Virender Sehwag is likely to go in for a shoulder surgery after IPL and more senior players can get injured or ask for rest. The selectors, thus, want to identify those who can be kept on stand-bye.
Importance of IPL
The IPL is a good place to spot talent because of two reasons: one, a lot of Indian players are in action for the different franchises (each side must play at least seven Indians in the 11); and two, the youngsters are tested under pressure situation against quality international opponents.
That is one of the reasons why performances in the IPL have often fast-tracked young cricketers or those on a comeback trail into India's limited-over teams. A good domestic season always helps, but the best way to catch the eye of the selectors is to do well in this T20 League.