Kolkata: After the third ODI between India and England at the Eden Gardens on Sunday, if there is one name that has taken world cricket by storm, it has to be that of Kedar Jadhav from Maharashtra. The guy from Pune is already hailed by some as the best finisher after Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in Indian cricket. True, this middle-order batsman has shown what it takes to take the game right down to the wire showing no signs of giving up despite wickets tumbling at the other end. He has had a memorable series with scores of 120, 22 and 90 against England, and has turned out to be an asset down the order. Jadhav played a match-winning knock in the first ODI and almost took India home in the third.
Many wouldn’t have even heard of this 31-year-old before the ODIs against England. But just to revive your memory, this middle-order batsman has been a consistent performer at the domestic level, but if there’s one tournament that gave him maximum exposure, it is the Indian Premier League (IPL). And this is where the utility of the cricketing extravaganza lies. Jadhav made his ODI debut back in 2014 before being dropped and then made comeback in 2015 against Zimbabwe. And he would definitely acknowledge his effort in the IPL as one of the keys behind his rejuvenation as a cricketer.
The IPL over the years has had its share of criticisms. The traditional cricket fans have written it off as a fixture that damages the untainted image of the gentleman’s game. Yes, there are glitz and glamour associated with the IPL, but if we look back, it is a tournament that has also significantly contributed to the emergence of several cricketers who have gone on to represent India at the highest level.
Take for example, Ravindra Jadeja who during the inaugural edition of the IPL (2008), was a treasure for the Rajasthan Royals (RR). So, crucial was Jadeja for his team, that RR’s skipper, Shane Warne, called him a Rockstar. It didn’t take Jadeja too much of time to make his India debut in 2009.
And IPL’s biggest gift to Indian cricket would be Team India skipper Virat Kohli who was groomed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore since the beginning and eventually being handed over the job of captaincy. And they are not the only ones. If we look at the list, then there are several others whose IPL stints helped them earn a place in the Indian team: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Karun Nair, and so many of them.
West Indian great, Chris Gayle attributes the rise of Indian cricket to the IPL. “Look at Indian cricket at the moment. They are dominating all forms of the game now and the reason is the IPL,” Gayle told telegraph.co.uk. in an interview in 2015.
And the IPL has given an opportunity to some Indian cricketers to make international comebacks as well. We mentioned Jadhav’s and there are more names in the list. Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were recalled for national duties because of their consistency in the cash-rich tournament. Wriddhiman Saha’s heroics with the bat for the Kings XI Punjab against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL final in 2014 was one of the turning points of his career, needless to say. Parthiv Patel despite being out of the Indian team for years before making a comeback recently, has impressed both with the bat and the wicket-keeping gloves in the IPL over the years.
It might be a bit stretched to attribute their success solely to the IPL ignoring the domestic structure in Indian cricket, but there is no denying that it’s the IPL that has made them household names. What the IPL does is that it makes the field open for competition. When a young Indian batsman faces Dale Steyn, it automatically gives him that confidence which he would miss out on in the Ranji Trophy. Similarly, getting the prize wicket of a Gayle or Kohli or David Warner, does wonders to an India aspirant’s enthusiasm. And when you are sharing the dressing room with international stars, you only gain in terms of experiences. “The players touch shoulders with their international opponents. They share the same dressing rooms. They know what they are thinking. Then they become bolder performing for their countries. That is because of IPL and it is fantastic,” Gayle said to the website.
Yes, there is no doubt that the IPL has been marred by controversies, spot-fixing being one of them. The after-match parties and the oomph factor have been aberrations, many critics would opine. The tournament has also been a money spinner for players as well as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Yet, when we look at it from just the game’s point of view, it has immensely encouraged not just Indian cricket, but world cricket as a whole. Warner’s rise in international cricket can also be credited to the IPL. Even Lasith Malinga’s career got a shot in the arm post the IPL.
It’s time the IPL gets its due which it has been deprived of. The Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee has a lot to discharge and that also includes restoring the credibility of the IPL. Hopefully, the IPL will gain back the confidence of the average cricket fan.
Welcome Kedar to our hearts. You are a little dynamo who has it in him to come to his country’s rescue when the chips are down. And your international performances also remind us of the much-lambasted IPL that has mostly earned brickbats instead of bouquets. Hopefully, we will see more Kedars in the future donning the India colours that will make us all proud of the INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE.