BY KHURRAM HABIB
New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) There were some concerns about certain Team India players before the Indian Premier League (IPL) began on September 19. But as the IPL draws to a close, these players with their performances seem to have laid these worries to rest — crucially ahead of India’s tour of Australia, comprising three ODIs, three T20 Internationals and four Tests, starting this month.
Here is a look at six players who have hit the refresh button:
Jasprit Bumrah (Age: 26, Team: Mumbai Indians)
The right-arm pace bowler, who is in all the three Indian squads for Australia tour, had come off an injury late last year and was looking rusty in the few games he played earlier this year. The Covid-19 break didn’t let him get much practice. However, he seems to have got his rhythm, pace, and zing back. He reached his peak as the IPL progressed, troubling batsmen not just with yorkers but with short-pitched deliveries as well. He should be raring to go in Australia where he helped India win their first-ever Test series a couple of seasons back.
Wickets so far in IPL: 23 @15.74
KL Rahul (Age: 28, Team: Kings XI Punjab):
The right-handed opener had been doing well for India in limited-overs format before the Covid-19 break. But thanks to his fine form and captaincy at IPL, he has made the Test squad, too, and has been picked as Virat Kohli’s deputy in the two limited-overs squads. Rahul led KXIP from the front, top-scoring, and leading the overall IPL run-scorers’ list even though his team failed to qualify for the playoffs. The good thing about Rahul’s batting is that he managed to get starts in almost all the innings. He finished with five half-centuries and a century, although he tapered off towards the end. He also earned accolades from Sunil Gavaskar for his captaincy.
Runs in IPL: 670 @55.83
Shikhar Dhawan (Age: 34, Team: Delhi Capitals):
The left-handed batsman, who is in the limited-overs squads for Australia, had gradually got back into the India squad with decent performances following injury at last year’s World Cup. Dhawan is second in the run-getters’ list just behind Rahul and has at least two more games to add to his aggregate. He made history at this year’s IPL by becoming the first batsman to score back-to-back centuries. Dhawan, who has lost his spot in the Tests, will be key in the shorter formats.
Runs in IPL: 525 @47.72
Mohammed Shami (Age: 30, Team: KXIP):
The right-arm fast bowler, who like Bumrah, finds a place in all three squads for the tour of Australia, has had a good IPL and is locked with three others — Trent Boult, Jofra Archer, and Yuzvendra Chahal — at the third spot in the wicket takers’ list with only a slight dip in average that pushed him below the other three. The fast bowler, known for hitting the seam, has leaked a few runs but has been accurate and picked wickets consistently. He had proved expensive when India toured New Zealand this year before lockdown and was dropped from both ODI and T20I XIs.
Wickets in IPL: 20 @23.00
Yuzvendra Chahal (Age: 30, Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The wiry leg-spinner, who is in India’s limited-overs squads and had been off-colour in T20Is before Covid-19, ended as RCB’s top wicket-taker. His strike rate — he took a wicket almost every 16th ball — was impressive too. He picked at least a wicket in every game except two. Chahal got a lot of wickets by bowling intelligently like tempting batsmen with flight and bowling wide outside the off-stump.
Wickets in IPL: 20 @19.05
Sanju Samson (Age: 25, Team: Rajasthan Royals):
The wicketkeeper-batsman, who replaced Rishabh Pant in India’s T20 squad for the Australia tour, has had to dabble between his two roles, playing either only as a pure batsman or as wicketkeeper-batsman, and he adapted to the role without any reservations. He was the top-scorer for RR despite the team possessing big names like Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Steve Smith. Despite not consistently getting the starts, he produced a few match-winning knocks.
Runs in IPL: 375 @28.85