Bengaluru, July 17: It is often said that Indian cricket has taken a giant leap ever since the Indian Premier League (IPL) took shape. Over a decade, the IPL has convinced many pundits of having opened up a massive talent pool for the game in the country and these talents are also being nurtured fast because of the exposure they get by rubbing shoulders with international players.
There is some truth in these claims for the advent of the IPL has indeed made Indian cricket a more happening place. The growing popularity of T20 cricket has imported a top-class fitness regime into the system while the blades of the batters have become broader. But a tournament like IPL has also made some questions unavoidable.
One of them is: How much the IPL has helped India in finding solid middle-order batsmen? In the just concluded World Cup, it was somewhat shocking to see India filling up their middle-order with wicket-keeper-batsmen instead of calling up a specialist batsman who can hold it together. Yes, the selection call was certainly suspect but even then, was there much of a choice for the Indian team management?
Since the exit of the Tendulkars, Rahul Dravids, Sourav Gangulys and VVS Laxmans, the batsmen with a sound technique that India have seen coming up are Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara. But none of them were visible in that game when India battled some fine pace bowling from the New Zealanders. While Rahane and Pujara were not in the playing XI, Rahul fell pathetically in the opening. How much has the IPL helped in finding and tuning up batsmen who know the art of not banging the ball mindlessly?
After the advent of the T20 format, cricketers like Pujara have been dubbed as 'dysfunctional' in limited-over cricket which is nothing but outrageous. India just needed to see off the first 10 overs in that match against the Kiwis but none of their batsmen could do it. Didn't we require somebody like Pujara then?
Rahane and Rahul, on the other hand, have seen their technique-based cricket ruined by the hurried cricket that T20 brings with it. It is again a big loss for none other than Indian cricket. Cricket also has a big place for defensive game but IPL has made us forgot that, so much so that we made a fool of ourselves by mocking the dull but effective batting display by two senior NZ batsmen in Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor at Old Trafford.