Much of the IPL fanfare every year revolves around the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. But none of these top India stars bound for the ICC Champions Trophy in England feature among the top 20 run-getters in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year.
Barring Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, who is a standby in the Champions Trophy squad, all the senior batsmen have performed below expectations, much to the disappointment of fans and franchises.
Foreign recruits David Warner, Hashim Amla, Steven Smith, Kieron Pollard and Ben Stokes have been consistent in 2017 IPL. Even Glenn Maxwell has come up with a few good scores.
Fresh faces arrive
However, what probably has kept the Indian element alive with the bat is the performance of the youngsters.
Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer have played knocks that have matched those of the best, at least in strokeplay. While they haven’t racked up massive aggregates like their seniors in the previous season, or say someone like Raina or Dhawan is doing this year, they have come up with defining knocks.
Former India opener and coach Anshuman Gaekwad says, “The IPL has done two good things. One, it has given opportunity to seniors to keep going. Secondly, it has allowed junior players to come to the party and become household names. It has helped their mental approach towards a game – they are confident and focused.”
The depleted Delhi Daredevils, who are out of contention and lie sixth in the points table, would have been in a far worse position had some of these youngsters not weighed in with their performances. Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson took them home against Gujarat Lions at the Ferozeshah Kotla while Shreyas Iyer single-handedly crushed Gujarat Lions in the game at Kanpur on Wednesday.
Daredevils’ youth factor
DD has relied on these young players the most as their South African recruits, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock, were out even before the league began.
“Youngsters are doing what they are supposed to do,” says Hemant Dua, CEO of Delhi Daredevils.
Nitish Rana played some blinders for Mumbai Indians in the first half of IPL 2017, while Rahul Tripathi’s blistering 93 single-handedly took Rising Pune Supergiant home against Kolkata Knight Riders.
But what will probably come as a bitter note is that these knocks have been far and few between, and that means the selectors won’t have a tough time when they decide an India team in the near future.
“I am glad the selectors didn’t get influenced by a couple of T20 knocks, even though there was talk about it. But it won’t be wrong to say they have burst into contention. It is good for Indian cricket,” Gaekwad added.