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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014
Thanks to IPL, Indians play fearless cricket
Wasim Akram
May 31, 2014
First Published: 23:55 IST(31/5/2014)
Last Updated: 23:58 IST(31/5/2014)

As we await the IPL final, I think it is the right time to look back at seven years of this tournament. I think this tournament has made a big impact on Indian cricket. Apart from the money factor, the players from India have got the exposure of playing alongside legends. Each side has about six to eight overseas players. Playing with and against them, gives a lot of confidence to the younger players.

This reminds me of my playing days. I played county cricket in 1988 for six months and in 1989 I was number one in the world. I took 11 wickets in the Melbourne Test that year followed by good performances in one-dayers and Test series against Australia. It is all about confidence in the end for a youngster.

There are other ways in which Indian cricket has benefitted. India now has bowlers who bowl at 145-150 kmph in Umesh, Shami, Varun. Although it is T20 cricket, competing against the best in the world helps these bowlers improve.

Look at the quality of professionals who have played IPL over the years Gilchrist, Afridi, McGrath, Kallis, Ponting. These are some of the best cricketers the game has ever seen. How will you not improve if you play against them?

Few years ago Kevin Pietersen had said that India won the World Cup in 2011 because of their experience in IPL. I have to completely agree with him. Now there is a sort of confidence in Indian cricket in the way they play the shots, they are fearless now.

That was not the case 15-20 years ago when you just had to get Sachin Tendulkar out. Now you have Raina, Kohli, Dhoni, the openers, Viru and Gautam were big assets too.  In ODIs and T20Is India has batting till number eight and even there you have a Jadeja.

Jadeja is also capable of hitting a six with all kinds of shots. They all play innovative strokes like reverse sweep, lap shot etc. If you play 60 matches in two months in front of 50,000 people you are bound to get used to big flight cricket.

When I go back to Pakistan, everyone asks me why are our players not playing the tournament? I think it is a valid question. If IPL starts fielding Pakistani players then the likes of Saeed Ajmal, Afridi, Umar Gul will only add value to this tournament.

Look at Bangladesh because of one Shakib in KKR squad the entire country backs our team. Similarly in Pakistan everyone supports KKR because I am with the squad. Hopefully, if more Bangladesh and Pakistan players are fielded, maybe the craze will grow even further.

The other day I saw Kallis talk for half an hour to a local player in our squad on how to play a bouncer. If someone had done that with me when I was 17, then I would have lapped up everything too.

Overall there is a greater understanding of cultures, new friendships have been formed. The overseas players are knowing more about subcontinent culture and our hospitality. World cricket has benefitted a lot from IPL as there is a greater understanding of our part of the world.

The writer is KKR mentor

TCM


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