India’s WC Squad’s IPL So Far: Hits, Misses & Big Disappointments
With perfection expected from Team India on all occasions, the cricketers often have to bear the brunt of public scrutiny at every tournament.
While the ongoing Indian Premier League has seen some brilliant displays by the Indian stalwarts, the overall performance of the squad that has been selected for the 2019 World Cup has been dismal.
With the long season behind giving rise to jaded legs, the Indian players have been underwhelming thus far.
Though the performance of young guns like Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant has been praise-worthy, the poor form of Kuldeep Yadav and Rohit Sharma who are both in the World Cup team, has been a cause of worry.
With the business end of the tournament approaching, the Indian cricket fans will hope that the internationals can find some of their lost form back, so that they take the flight to England with momentum behind them.
The Run Machine has not allowed his hunger for runs to decline even after RCB were in the abyss at the start of the league. After six successive defeats, it needed a monstrous effort from their stalwart to get the campaign back on track. With one hundred against KKR and two fifties to go along with it, Kohli has crossed the 400-run mark in IPL 2019, and will look to add on as he desperately tries to keep his franchise afloat.
Rohit has been unable to find his groove in the T20 extravaganza, and has let his franchise down with their below-par returns.
The Indian opener, who has been one of the consistent performers for Team India over the last few years, had managed just 286 runs at an average of 23.83 in 2018, and though he has fared slightly better in 2019, his tally of 228 runs after 9 games is hardly inspiring.
Though his average is an improvement at 25.33, his strike-rate has dwindled to less than 130, and with the skipper not leading from the front, Mumbai’s troubles have only magnified.
After starting off slowly, the former SRH player has found his groove and now has 401 runs to his name after 11 matches.
Once Prithvi Shaw lost his momentum, the senior player has risen to the occasion, smashing four fifties, including an unbeaten 97 against KKR with a strike-rate of 137.32 and an average close to 40.
Like Rohit, Bhuvi too has gone off the radar in the last twelve months.
His average this year hovers around 39, with an economy rate that is nearing 8, and his spells in the death overs – he conceded 72 runs between overs 17-20 in SRH’s first two games – will have the management pondering.
With only three front-line seamers selected in the Indian Team, of which Bhuvi is one, the Kohli-led team can ill-afford a player who tends to go astray in any phase.
Yet another player that will hold the key in the middle overs for India, Jadhav, too is in a dismal streak, amassing only 156 runs at a poor average of 22.28.
More worryingly, his strike-rate is less than 100, and with the selectors viewing him as a finisher, his indifferent form could increase the pressure on the likes of MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya.
Karthik was was in the news after the squad announcement, which saw him edge ahead of vastly talented and in-form Rishabh Pant.
The KKR skipper had not even crossed 120 runs in 10 innings, scoring at an average of 16.71 and a strike-rate of 119.38 but overcame criticism to score a captain’s knock of 97 against RR.
His experience that saw him trump Pant in the squad emerged to the fore in the crucial game, and it is hoped that he can carry on.
Kuldeep has taken only 4 wickets in 9 games, and was ripped apart by Moeen Ali in the end overs against RCB, which left the chinaman distraught after the innings.
He was subsequently dropped for KKR’s next game against SRH, and the star player who has been responsible for spinning a web around the rivals since his international debut will walk into the World Cup with his confidence at an all-time low.
The wrist-spinner is having a better season that his spin twin Kuldeep, and what has remained most impressive is the way he has adapted to a flat deck at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
On a pitch where the bowlers are taken for aplenty, Chahal has gone for only 7.82 runs an over. He has 14 wickets from 11 games, with an impressive strike-rate of 17.57.
Yet another cricketer who managed to create waves when the squad was announced was Shankar. Backed profusely by MSK Prasad, who termed him as India’s number 4, the SRH cricketer has failed to grasp on to his chances.
In the absence of Kane Williamson, Shankar was promoted up the order, which was to a prelude for the mega-event. However, in 10 innings, he has only managed to score 165 runs at an average of 20.62, and his strike-rate of 124 hardly inspires as well.
However, to be fair, his side has been led by the duo of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner, who have been at their aggressive best, and matching up to their standards can be a tough ask.
One of the surprise performers this season has been Mohammed Shami. The player was hardly considered a T20 bowler, having played just 7 international games, but he has impressed with his control and accuracy in the IPL this year as he has picked up 14 wickets after 11 games – the most that he has taken in a single IPL season.
Though he has been on the expensive side of things, what has impressed is his bowling strike-rate of 18.85, a massive jump from 28 in 2018.
He currently has more wickets than Jasprit Bumrah, who has 11 from 10 games, and with Bhuvi in indifferent form, Shami’s rise along with his form in New Zealand earlier, will give Kohli and Co the much needed confidence in their seam attack.
Jadeja, who was selected in the World Cup team over a fourth seamer due to his batting heroics and his ability to take advantage of the pitches in England that are expected to get low and slow as the tournament progresses, might have only picked up 9 wickets and scored less than 75 runs in 11 games, but he has played vital knocks under pressure.
He has been overshadowed by Imran Tahir with the ball, and with MS Dhoni taking away all the limelight for CSK with the bat, his heroics have often gone unnoticed.
However, he can be a game-changer, and with crucial performances with both bat and ball in the past, he can be an integral member in England.
Much of CSK’s success this year has relied on the form that Dhoni has exhibited for the lower down the order. The keeper has scored more than 310 runs at a stunning average of 104.66, with three fifties to his name.
With the likes of Rayudu, Kedar and Raina in dismal form, Dhoni has taken the onus of leading the carnage, and the result is that CSK has already sealed their top-four berth.
Becoming the fastest Indian to score 3000 T20 runs during the course of this IPL, KL has been Punjab’s go-to player at the top.
After a breakthrough season with Kings XI last year that got him back into the contention, Rahul has carried forward his form this year as well, scoring 441 runs in 11 innings with one hundred and four tons at a strike-rate of 130.08.
Bumrah has not been among the wickets but has kept things tight and has stalled the run-flow in the first six and the death overs. Though he has 11 wickets, which cannot be termed as disappointing, MI would have hoped for more wickets from him.
However, Bumrah’s greatest strength lies in his ability to curtail the runs, and his economy-rate of just 6.41 shows that he has done that with perfection.
Keeping aside the off-field controversies that had rocked Pandya earlier this year, the Mumbai Indians’ all-rounder has shown his skills once again in the IPL season.
The younger Pandya brother relishes performing in tough conditions – be it with bat or ball.
He has come to the rescue for MI down the order this season, smashing 241 runs in 10 matches with a strike-rate of 190, and has also scalped 8 wickets with best figures of 3 for 20.
Performance of Stand-By Players
The BCCI has named five stand-by players for the World Cup, namely Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Pant, Ambati Rayudu and Navdeep Saini.
The Delhi Capitals star scored 78 off 36 against Rajasthan earlier this week, a few days after he smashed 78 in 27 against Mumbai. With Karthik in an inconsistent patch, overlooking a talented youngster who could have been the X-factor has not found many supporters.
Rayudu – regarded as a technically superior player over Shankar at four has managed only 213 runs at a strike-rate of 90.63, and his past performances for the Men in Blue has not helped his case either.
However, his experience of playing in England seems to be the reason why he was mentioned as a stand-by. Ishant has been yet another surprise performer this season, bowling economically, and his experience in an already thin pace attack will be beneficial, while Saini’s quicker deliveries and his economy rate of 7.74 makes him an interesting choice.
Axar has been named as a spin stand-by, but with India already having four tweakers, chances are less that he will be called upon.
*Stats updated till 25 April, 2019
(Sarah Waris is a postgraduate in English Literature has taken on the tough task of limiting the mystic world of cricket to a few hundred words. She spends her hours gorging on food and blabbering nineteen to the dozen while awaiting the next Indian sporting triumph.)