Come January and the Indian cricket circles are abuzz with activity. Not because of the Ranji Trophy knockouts and the domestic zonal and inter-state limited overs’ championships that follow but due to the Indian Premier League (IPL) coming closer every passing day.
If you’re wondering that the Indian cricket board’s (BCCI) row with Sahara, the Pune Warriors’ owners, would have forced the other IPL teams to go slow in getting their act together for the fifth season of the Twenty20 extravaganza scheduled to begin on April 4, think again.
In fact, the other franchisees seem to be so assured about IPL-5 that their planning has begun not just in India but even in Australia. Key officials of some of the IPL teams have been visiting Australia to plan their respective team’s strategy.
While former India bowlers TA Sekar and Ashish Kapoor, both with the Delhi Daredevils, visited Perth, Mumbai Indians’ player manager Rahul Sanghvi was in Adelaide over the last week.
Sekar, who returned to Daredevils as mentor in the off-season after spending two fruitful years with Mumbai Indians, and Kapoor are learnt to have had meetings with their captain Virender Sehwag and Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene, their latest acquisition at the recent players’ auction.
Even Sanghvi, a former India left-arm spinner, has been in discussions with captain Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma — both are vital cogs in the MI set-up — and one of their latest additions, Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera.
Sanghvi also monitored the fitness status of Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson, who has been recovering from a foot surgery.Besides Jayawardene, Sehwag’s team also managed to add West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell and New Zealand batsman Doug Bracewell in the auction held on February 4.
Just the start
Add to it Kevin Pietersen’s transfer from Deccan Chargers and the side that finished at the bottom of the table last week appears set for a revival.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, are aiming to replicate their winning form in the Champions League in the IPL; in their quest for a maiden IPL triumph they bought Perera, Johnson, Rudra Pratap Singh and the South African duo of Herschelle Gibbs and Robin Peterson.
With the Indian team set to spend almost another month Down Under, don’t be surprised if the star cricketers’ visitors’ list is dominated by IPL officials and sponsors in the coming days.