Can IPL 2024 bring to the fore a team of champions for India at World Cup? | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Can IPL 2024 bring to the fore a team of champions for India at World Cup?

By, Mumbai
Mar 21, 2024 06:36 PM IST

The T20 World Cup will begin in less than a week after IPL 2024 and selectors will have to identify the best possible combination for India.

What’s changed from Ravindra Jadeja’s title-winning whip down the leg side last year for Chennai Super Kings late in the night of what ended up being a three-day 15-overs-a-side IPL final? Well, MS Dhoni, 42-years young, will be back as promised after a knee surgery with a throwback look, now sporting long hair. But true to his propensity of throwing up surprises, a day before the tournament opener and just like that, he handed over captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad. The Maharashtra batter has been CSK’s opening batter for four seasons across 52 IPL matches.

Captains pose for a group photo with the Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy 2024 on the eve of the tournament, in Chennai(IPL)
Captains pose for a group photo with the Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy 2024 on the eve of the tournament, in Chennai(IPL)

This may finally bring an end to Dhoni’s illustrious stint as CSK captain where he won five titles, the last one in 2023 coming after taking back captaincy from Jadeja mid-way through 2022.

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Neither Dhoni nor Kohli will walk out for the toss on Friday but make no mistake, they will be the poster boys of the opening match. Kohli, wearing an even sharper beard, returns to action after two months away from the spotlight. This may almost certainly be Dhoni’s farewell season. Expect Chepauk to be dressed in yellove.

The CSK philosophy will remain intact, but they now have a sizable Kiwi presence in the squad with the addition of Daryll Mitchell and Rachin Ravindra, even as Devon Conway is ruled out.

Meanwhile, Rishabh Pant will rise again, brushing away bad memories of his charred car and serious injuries from the road accident, around 14 months ago. Nothing will please the fans more than to see the dynamic wicket-keeper back as Delhi Capitals captain for their first match against Punjab Kings in Chandigarh on Saturday afternoon.

There’s more that’s happened in the year gone by. Ishan Kishan first lost his place in the ODI playing 11, then went his Test match spot and finally his T20I place. Frustrated, he took a personal leave giving the entire Ranji Trophy season a miss. For this, he lost his BCCI contract. The coming IPL will mark his return with a point or three to prove. KL Rahul will return from yet another injury. He will also be on the long list of wicket-keeper batters fighting for a World Cup ticket.

Like Kishan, Shreyas Iyer too was penalized for missing Ranji matches. He’s the captain of the men in purple — Kolkata Knight Riders. Iyer’s immediate focus would be to have a game plan to counter the two-bouncer in an over allowance the bowlers will have this time. If the Impact player rule freed up batters, last year, to hit out with more abandon, will the additional bouncer for the fast bowler manage to keep them in check?

RCB have finally won a trophy, but that’s the WPL. Whether that will ease the pressure on the men’s team or burden them with more expectations is difficult to say. With Kohli as the constant, they come with a change in name – now Royal Challengers Bengaluru, not Bangalore.

Trophy they may not have, but the RCB batting core remains strong as ever to exploit the short boundaries at home. Cameron Green, roped in as a cash trade before the auction, will create room for himself even among a strong set of batters such as Kohli, skipper Faf Du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have changed their coach and captain, yet again. Daniel Vettori replaces Brian Lara as head coach. Having spent 20.5 crore to secure Pat Cummins’s services, he’s been handed the captain’s armband too.

That makes him the second overseas captain in IPL 2024 other than Du Plessis. Among the eight Indian captains, India captain Rohit Sharma won’t be leading this year. After three trophy-less seasons, he was told by the Mumbai Indians management that his time as leader was up. Rohit will play under Hardik Pandya, whose all-cash trade from Gujarat Titans to MI dominated cricket headlines. When the two franchises from west India lock horns in the Sunday night blockbuster at Ahmedabad, expect television ratings to soar.

You could choose to listen to Virender Sehwag call the match in Haryanvi or watch out for Sidhuisms as Navjot Sidhu returns to the commentary box.

The pre-tournament colour and sparkle has not dimmed one bit. Even Chandrakant Pandit is doing ‘Ole Ole’ on KKR’s social media handle, while Justin Langer of all Australians let his hair down on Lucknow Super Giants’ social media page.

THE SELECTORS' EYE

India’s five wise men will be watching from the sidelines. The T20 World Cup will begin in less than a week after the IPL final. The last time a T20 World Cup was preceded by the IPL — 2021 in the UAE — it turned out to be a forgettable one for India. The selectors would be conscious not to take each headline performance at face value and see if they can separate the wheat from the chaff.

They need to identify a lower-order wicket-keeper bat, a fast-bowling backup, finalize the spin attack and above all keep an eye on the Intent quotient — it’s about time the glitziest T20 league throws up a team that can bring the World Cup home to India.

IPL 2024
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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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