This edition of the IPL, like all previous seasons, has brought lesser-known domestic cricketers to the fore. While Harmeet Singh produced a match-winning final over against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Shahbaz Nadeem cleaned up Richard Levi and Davy Jacobs against the Mumbai Indians. Rajat Bhatia too continues to bowl miserly, even as many others catch the eye.
These unknown commodities of Indian cricket, who one wouldn't have heard of, otherwise, have been rightfully hogging the limelight. Besides bringing money into the pockets of many domestic cricketers, the IPL also brings recognition - both being scarce to an average first-class player.
While it's convenient to get carried away with the ones who are doing well in the IPL, it will be grave injustice to forget the top performers of the domestic season. It's unbelievable that the top three run-scorers - Robin Bist, Vineet Saxena and Abhinav Mukund, of the recently-concluded domestic season haven't played a game this season.
In fact, Saxena doesn't even have an IPL contract because his style of play may help him score a double century in the Ranji finals but would never impress an IPL franchise. I'm not suggesting that top performers of the first-class season should automatically get an IPL deal. Yet, it'll be unfair to disregard their contribution just because they aren't a part of the T20 extravaganza.
The IPL is a brilliant platform but only for players with a certain kind of skill-set. Some would argue that good players, in this day and age, should be able to adapt to different formats. Point taken. Ajinkya Rahane is an example of someone who churned out superlative performances in the longer format of the domestic structure and also successfully adapted to the demands of the shortest format.
But is it fair to crucify someone if he's suited for only one format? Specialisation is the way forward. After all, we're getting to a stage when we'd be expected to pick different sides for different formats. In fact, I'd say that it's imperative to reward players who have the talent and temperament to succeed in the longer format but aren't cut out for T20.
It would be unfortunate if the likes of Pujara, Mukund, Saxena compromise on their prevailing skill-sets to suit the demands of T20, for some might make it and the rest will fall by the wayside.
I'm also worried about the young spinners. I haven't encountered many in the last few domestic seasons who are willing to flight and turn the ball off the surface. If those who do, start bowling darts, then the future of spin in India is bleak.
It's fine for the fans and media to go over the top in praising the success stories. But it is imperative for the selectors to revisit the domestic season while picking the India team.
The writer is contracted to Rajasthan Royals