Kolkata, April 2: The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is currently underway and for those Indian cricketers who are confirmed to play in the ICC World Cup 2019 starting next month in England, this T20 tournament offers the final opportunity to tune up.
India's last international assignment before the World Cup ended last month when they were beaten 2-3 by Australia in an ODI series despite taking a 2-0 lead. Some of the names that are expected to feature in the Men in Blue's squad for the big tournament did not come up the way the selectors would have wanted them to. And there are players who had done well in the series assuring captain Virat Kohli and the management about their forms.
Apart from Kohli, some of the big names who are playing in the IPL as a serious preparation for the WC are openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, all-rounder Hardik Pandya, batsmen KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar, wicket-keeper-batsmen Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik, pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, among others.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is another player but we are keeping him out of this list because he is approaching the end of a glorious career and irrespective of the preparation, he is going to give his all in the World Cup - his fourth.
Crucial IPL for KL Rahul
For Rahul, this IPL is significant because his ordinary form in international cricket between IPL 2018 and 2019 is enough to see him going out of contention for a WC berth. Playing for Kings XI Punjab, Rahul played a magnificent 71 not out against Mumbai Indians and it showed that the Karnataka batsman is eager to make the tournament count before the WC squad is picked.
The same holds true for Sunrisers Hyderabad's Vijay Shankar who has impressed on the international stage and will look to score more to make his claim stronger.
For Kolkata Knight Riders' skipper Karthik, this IPL is a big opportunity to reclaim his spot in the Indian team as he seemed to have lost the race to Delhi Capitals' Pant. However, Pant made a mess of the opportunity that came his way in the Australia series and is also under pressure not to lose the place to Karthik as the second wicket-keeper.
Critical for Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya needs to get back to shape after missing the action for a while due to injuries and a controversy over his remarks in a TV show. In the spin-bowling department, Yuzvendra Chahal has been doing good for Royal Challengers Bangalore but Knight Riders' Kuldeep Yadav and Chennai Super Kings' Ravindra Jadeja are yet to touch their best. Jadeja is under more pressure because Kuldeep is a certainty for World Cup.