IPL talking points: India's T20 World Cup dilemma, impact player woes and uncapped stars

A number of first-choice Indian team players are not in good form ahead of World Cup selection

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya has struggled as a player and leader, resulting in question marks over his spot in the national team for the T20 World Cup in June. AFP
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With the Indian Premier League past the halfway mark, we take a look at the main talking points over the coming days.

Impact player rule missing the mark

When the impact player rule was introduced in the IPL last year, the idea was to provide teams an additional resource during the match.

However, what we have now is teams lengthening their batting line-up and the role of the all-rounder diminished significantly.

It is no coincidence that it is only in this IPL that teams are threatening to go past the 300-run mark. Since the top order batsmen know they will have an additional batsman in the XI in case things go awry, they have the licence to attack from the first ball.

Also, there is hardly any need for batsmen to bowl a few overs, or bowlers to work on their batting, unless you are an established and world-class all-rounder. The players are not happy, most notably India captain Rohit Sharma.

The Mumbai Indians batsman recently told Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan on the Club Prairie Fire podcast that the rule is affecting the role of all-rounders.

Emboldened by a senior player speaking out, other Indian players have expressed their unhappiness over the current situation. All-rounder Axar Patel complained that he is not getting a chance to showcase his batting skills.

“I am not a big fan of the rule, because as an all-rounder I know that they will either take a proper batsman or a bowler, not an all-rounder,” Patel said. “I can play early, but if you want to give the chance to a young player, then you have to give them their position. Because of that [impact player rule] I have to come down the order."

India seamer Mukesh Kumar said teams don’t slow down even if they lose wickets, which is making T20 even more batter dominated.

“If 12 players are not playing at the international level, then what is the need of it in IPL? With 12 players, even if four wickets are down, the next player is not scared of getting out. They come and play their shots,” Kumar said.

It was an average idea to begin with and it has quickly turned into a nightmare for bowlers and all-rounders. Organisers would do well to have a rethink.

Who will make it to the India team for T20 World Cup?

Barely a week after the IPL ends next month, the focus will shift to the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and US in June.

The India team for the World Cup will be selected by the end of this week. Since there is almost no gap between the two tournaments, the players who are in or out of form in the IPL are likely to carry that into the World Cup. And that is a major problem for the team in blue as many of their first-choice players are not in good touch just now.

The form and confidence of all-rounder Hardik Pandya has taken a beating ever since he took the captaincy of Mumbai Indians from Rohit. He has been harangued by fans at every turn, his bowling and batting have fallen off a cliff and the team is also unlikely to make the playoffs.

Since returning from a long-term injury following a car accident, Rishabh Pant has yet to show he can again stand up against top-quality bowling. Pacers Mohammad Siraj, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan don’t inspire any confidence, either.

Also, if both Rohit and Virat Kohli get selected, then the more in-form batsmen such as Shivam Dube, Riyan Parag, Abhishek Sharma, Ashutosh Sharma and Shashank Singh are likely to be left out of the starting XI or the squad altogether.

In bowling, only Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav look certainties in the T20 format. But despite all the warning signs, it looks like the selectors will play it safe and pick the tried-and-tested.

Uncapped stars

While many of the big names with even bigger contracts are struggling or sitting on the bench, the younger local players have shown how the T20 format should be played.

Sunrisers Hyderabad opener Abhishek is easily the most destructive batsman in Indian cricket, matching the likes of Travis Head and Heinrich Klaasen when it comes to shots and strike rate. Plus he is a capable left-arm spinner.

Punjab Kings duo Ashutosh and Shashank were an afterthought for their team management at the beginning of the tournament, but have now emerged as the strongest middle order pair in the competition.

Rajasthan Royals’ Riyan Parag has been in devastating form in domestic cricket and has shown glimpses of his superlative power hitting this season.

In the bowling department, one name has eclipsed all, even though he bowled barely 50 balls before getting injured. Lucknow Super Giants quick Mayank Yadav emerged as the fastest bowler in the world during two extraordinary spells against Punjab and Royal Challengers Bengaluru. His pace and accuracy were a sight to behold and, had he not got injured, would have been a certainty for India's T20 World Cup squad.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 9:24 AM