There’s a change of guard taking place at the IPL. Youth is taking over the centre stage. The young Indian talent always had promise but what has changed is how they are now getting good at reading tricky situations and holding their nerve.
Getting runs whilst resurrecting an innings in the middle overs is the most difficult balancing act in T20 cricket and at IPL the job has generally been marked for experienced hands, possibly a foreign hire.
Not any more though.
The spreadsheet of impact players confirm passing of the baton and of Indian dominance.
Little known Rahul Tewatia, Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi are now doing the rounds on many websites. Out of the first 16 matches, 12 man-of-the-match awards have been won by Indians, nailing them at a phenomenal 75 per cent!
Sanju Samson and Tewatia from RR, Shreyas Iyer and Prithvi Shaw from DC, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal from Kings XI Punjab, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal and Devdutt Padikkal from RCB, Ishan Kishan from MI to name a few have stolen a march on their fancied rivals.
Talking of fancied gold star acquisitions, the highly rated and the sought-after Pat Cummins has encountered massive resistance from Indian batting talent, so much so that his enterprise may look elsewhere for relief.
Dale Steyn has already been benched. The top layer of each segment is dominated by local talent. The big dog of leg spin is Chahal and Saini is fast catching up with Kagiso Rabada in death bowling skills.
In fact, this years IPL has become more of an Indian in-house arm wrestling show. There’s is this punch-up for superiority between two young captains KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer and rivalry between keeper batsmen – Sanju vs Rishabh vs Ishan – is brewing too.
Who to pick and when to pick all these youngsters for India is the question. I would not wait and pick them now. Delaying their entry and waiting to see them provide more evidence of their skills is only going to create doubts in them and kill their enthusiasm to reach the summit.
Sending them back to domestic events will force them into a listless existence, killing their passion to be top-notchers!
Form and confidence has to be respected and if they have it at such a competitive stage then the selectors must make use of it. Strike while the iron is hot! Play them.
Ramiz Raja, a former Pakistan captain, was a key player of the 1992 World Cup-winning team