This year’s Indian Premier League has a World Cup subplot. Watch out for the potential hotpicks …

This year’s Indian Premier League has a World Cup subplot. Watch out for the potential hotpicks …

This year’s Indian Premier League has a World Cup subplot. Come October, and 80 per cent of the Indian team would pick itself for the T20 World Cup in Australia. But a few places are still up for grabs and from that perspective, this year’s IPL is going to be even more important for some players.

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Two years ago, after Suresh Raina had walked out of the Chennai Super Kings bubble, this correspondent had a conversation with the franchise’s de facto head and former BCCI president N Srinivasan. The veteran administrator predicted a bright future for the Gaikwad. Srinivasan knows the game inside out and he has an eye for talent. The young opener hasn’t let him down. Gaikwad was the highest run-getter of the tournament last term, scoring 635 runs in 16 matches and contributing immensely to CSK’s title win. It saw him get picked for the Indian team as well and the 25-year-old so far has played three T20Is.

A backup opener in the Indian team in the shortest format, another good IPL this year will make him a strong contender for the World Cup. Beyond Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, Indian’s opening options are restricted to Gaikwad and Ishan Kishan. Last season, he was a relatively unknown quantity. CSK retained him for Rs 6 crore. This term, his challenge mainly would be to counter the third-season (read, second) blues.

Ishan Kishan

Eyebrows were raised when Mumbai Indians forked out Rs 15.25 crore for the wicketkeeper-batsman. The IPL auction dynamics can defy logic at times and Kishan will have to live up to his price tag. This can put the 23-year-old under immense pressure. If he passes the test with flying colours, apart from helping his IPL franchise, he will go to the T20 World Cup.

Kishan has already played 10 T20Is and three ODIs. The game against New Zealand at the T20 World Cup last year was his baptism by fire. To call this season a make-or-break for him would be an exaggeration, for Kishan is still very young. In Indian cricket, however, the bus waits for no one.

Venkatesh Iyer

His rise last year was meteoric, so much so that from relative obscurity, he became a Kolkata Knight Riders hero and then went on to play for India, all inside three months. KKR retained Venkatesh for Rs 8 crore and once again, he is likely to open for his franchise.

The Indian team management, however, uses him as a bowling-allrounder, a finisher at No. 6 or 7. Chetan Sharma, the chief selector, has made it clear that Hardik Pandya will not be considered until he is bowling fit. Taking that into account, maybe Venkatesh would be better off batting down the order for KKR also, to facilitate his India aspirations in a T20 World Cup year. Given the franchise’s opening void, though, the southpaw is unlikely to be afforded that luxury. The challenge for Venkatesh this term would be to strike the right balance as far as his batting is concerned.

Ravi Bishnoi and Rahul Chahar

The two wrist-spinners are direct rivals with an eye to the T20 World Cup. Bishnoi was mother-henned by Anil Kumble at the Punjab franchise before he left them to join Lucknow Super Giants for Rs 4 crore. Chahar, on the other hand, has gone to Punjab Kings for Rs 5.25 crore and he will be mentored by Kumble. Wrist-spin will play a key role in Australia and it’s basically a three-way race between Yuzvendra Chahal, Chahar and Bishnoi. The Chahal has his nose in front, but Chahar’s strength is his pace – he is quicker through the air – while Bishnoi has a very potent googly. The 21-year-old gave a good account of himself in the four T20Is he played against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. This IPL is going to be very important for both of them.

Deepak Chahar

CSK spent a staggering Rs 14 crore to buy him back, but the seam-allrounder is in danger of missing the majority of this year’s IPL, nursing a right quadriceps injury. The Indian team, however, knows his value, as a Powerplay specialist with the ball and his merry hitting lower down the order. But there’s a catch, the national selectors didn’t phase out Bhuvneshwar Kumar despite a poor T20 World Cup last year and the experienced seamer of late has shown signs of regaining his swing. From that point of view, Deepak would like to play some part in the IPL and make impact contributions.

Kuldeep Yadav

Left out of the BCCI’s central contract list, the chinaman bowler is going through a tough phase of his career. KKR didn’t retain him either, and although Delhi Capitals have bought him for Rs 2 crore, he might not be an automatic pick. Whatever opportunity Kuldeep gets, he needs to make that count, with his career demanding a reboot.

Watch out for

Umran Malik has been retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 4 crore. Arguably India’s fastest bowler, some of the pitches, especially the ones at Pune, might help him make the ball rear.

Check the source here –Source, Financial Express.