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Jaiswal, Patidar and the Twenty20 fillip

IPL provides youngsters the confidence essential to perform for India

Jaiswal, Patidar and the Twenty20 fillip

Yashasvi Jaiswal has cemented his place as an opener. file

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 10

Virat Kohli is skipping the Test series against England due to ‘personal reasons’; KL Rahul, who starred in the first Test, missed the second Test at Visakhapatnam due to an injury, and so did Ravindra Jadeja, who too had done well in the first Test. Then there is the greatly impactful Rishabh Pant, who hasn’t played any cricket for India since December 2022, when he was badly hurt in an accident.

In this scenario, it is easy to imagine a team suffering badly, with four of its tops stars missing — yet India won the second Test in Vizag rather handily, with great performances by some of the boys just stepping into the shoes of men.

Twenty20 cricket and Test cricket are like chalk and cheese, but IPL’s impact in building up India’s bench strength must be acknowledged. Having rubbed shoulders with the best players in the world during the IPL, and often thrashed them in the nets during practice sessions, these youngsters don’t fear the world’s best when they transition from club cricket to playing for India.

Never backing down

India are without several first-choice players, yet they remain quite competitive.

  • Virat Kohli: Is missing the entire series due to personal reasons
  • KL Rahul: The wicketkeeper-batter had suffered an injury in the first Test
  • Ravindra Jadeja: Among the world’s top allrounders, Ravindra Jadeja missed the second Test due to an injury
  • Mohammed Shami: Was ruled out of the tour of South Africa with an injury and hasn’t made it back
  • Rishabh Pant: Hasn’t played for India since December 2022, when he was involved in a car accident
  • Hardik Pandya: Key allrounder has been troubled by injuries over the years

Take Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has cemented his place as an Indian opener after given a chance. Such has been the impact of Jaiswal that India barely missed the mainstay of batting, former skipper Kohli, in Visakhapatnam. Jaiswal set up the platform for India’s 106-run win over England, top-scoring with a scintillating double ton in the first innings. Jaiswal, only 22 years old, was born in a place called Suriyawan in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh. At 12, he moved to Mumbai for cricket and was soon scoring tons of runs. A year after shining at the 2020 U-19 World Cup, Jaiswal joined the IPL team Rajasthan Royals after being bought for Rs 2.4 crore. His financial future was secure — now came the matter of scoring, keeping alive the ambition of playing for India.

Rajat Patidar, who made his India debut in the Vizag Test after spending years in the domestic set-up, looked calm and serene in his first-innings cameo of 32. Another one to step up to the Team India fold is Bengal’s seam bowler Akash Deep, who has got a maiden call-up for the remaining three Tests against England. This is in addition to the inclusion of wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel, seam bowler Mukesh Kumar and domestic heavy-scorer Sarfaraz Khan, who was called in as cover for the injured Rahul in the second Test.

Clearly, a new Team India is taking shape — and much of it gains its strength from young, confident men who have excelled in the IPL.

However, a look at both Jaiswal and Patidar shows they had to take very different paths to Team India. Jaiswal made his name at the U-19 World Cup in 2020 and was adjudged the Player of the Tournament, in which India finished as the runners-up to Bangladesh. He was picked up by Rajasthan Royals, then fast-tracked into the Mumbai Ranji team, where he has flourished.

But his numbers in First-Class cricket are excellent, too — he averages 73 in the Ranji Trophy, and his current India average is 57.

In contrast, Patidar had to wait far longer — he made his debut at 30. His Ranji Trophy-winning ton in 2022 — 122 against serial winners Mumbai — made sure he became part of the conversation when it came to replacing the ageing middle-order in the Indian team. Then came his 112 in the IPL, for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Lucknow Super Giants — a good show in the IPL is sure to pitchfork a player into national reckoning, because of the spotlight. And this knock opened the India doors for the Madhya Pradesh batter.

Patidar’s mentor and former India international Amay Khurasiya says patience was the key for the MP batter. “One has to do the hard yards in domestic cricket and Rajat has done that. Talent is not everything in cricket. One has to log lots of miles in the legs, do a lot of sacrifices to reach a certain level,” Khurasiya said, explaining Patidar’s elevation.

“Two things made a solid case for him — the hundred in the Ranji Trophy final, and his hundred in IPL for RCB against a potent attack. Although he has not played white-ball cricket for India yet, when he does that, I believe he would show his usefulness,” he added.

Jaiswal’s coach Jwala Singh, who supported the youngster while he was struggling when he came to Mumbai, said it is tough for a lot of players to slum it out in domestic cricket.

“No one comes to watch Vijay Hazare, Ranji Trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali matches. However, in the IPL the grounds are full and they demand a good performance from the players. Suddenly, the media wants to write about you, and it becomes do-or-die for the players. Career daav pe hota hai,” Singh explained.

“Doing well means that the players have the right temperament to handle good attacks and play in front of a crowd. So I would say IPL definitely plays an important part in an Indian player’s elevation to the Indian team’s set-up,” he added.

A lot fail as well

However, for every Jaiswal or Patidar and Washington Sundar, there are countless examples likes pace bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who has failed to stay in contention. Injuries have curtailed his career after he grabbed the spotlight at the U-19 World Cup in 2018.

Singh has sympathy for the young stars who fade away. His reasoning is very simple: “These boys are selected from state teams after matches. Those selected play in the U-19 World Cups and if they perform, they are written and talked about. So from unknowns, they become overnight stars. Some of them then get picked in IPL auctions for big sums. They cannot handle the money and the distractions that come with it as they are young boys. The players who have the right mentors are more likely to survive this pressure. Do not take me otherwise, but I really think that the U-19 boys should be asked to play domestic seasons for at least two years before the IPL contracts. This way we can make them survive this grind.”

Five IPL stars who made it to Team India

Umran Malik: The J&K paceman was a net bowler in the IPL, and sent the stumps flying with his raw pace — he made it to Team India and has played 10 ODIs and eight T20Is.

Suryakumar Yadav: He toiled for years in the Ranji Trophy, but was noticed only after his breathtaking performances in the IPL, making his Test debut at the ripe age of 32.

Avesh Khan: Came into India reckoning after excelling in the 2021 IPL season, ending up with 24 wickets in 16 matches; has played eight ODIs and 20 T20Is.

Ruturaj Gaikwad: Again, a player who scored heavily in the domestic circuit, but noticed only when he made an impact in the IPL — 635 runs in 16 matches in 2021. He made his ODI debut the same years, got his Test debut the following year.

Arshdeep Singh: The lanky Punjab lad stunned everyone with 18 wickets in 12 games in the IPL in 2022, his yorker defeating the best of batsmen in the death overs. The Guna-born Punjab player featured in ODIs and T20Is for India.

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