A new era of Indian cricket
Once upon a time, to represent the country for a sport was a larger than life dream which many dared to witness with open and closed eyes. These were rooted desires of parents and family pushing their kids to go one step higher in achieving their aspirations rooted in the generations to follow. Some were successful, many weren't.
As many dreams perished, a handful became heroes, some over night while some took a while but were definitely important chapters in the sports glory. Times though have now changed. The once upon a time opportunity looks like an everyday affair as talent has become comparatively easier to spot, especially when it comes to Cricket.
In a country like India, where people are used to finding a God for everything, Cricket, more popularly termed as a religion in the country is making life difficult for those selecting teams for tournaments across the world.
There was a time when a junior team was termed as India A, where many youngsters would take up the chance to display their talent out in the middle. Today even team A is as much senior as the senior team itself with the likes of Manish Pandey, K L Rahul, at times Mandeep Singh amongst many others.
Though these players represent the second leg or the so called bench of the more senior Indian squad, each player has displayed their individual calibre when it comes to saving the senior time in a moment of crisis making the player as much a pro as anyone else within the Indian colours.
The ongoing Zimbabwe series in the Harare sports club has been easy for the men in blue with only one hiccup being an exception. But well as a great man once said, exceptions seldom break rules. As limited overs captain decided to play, taking responsibility of marshalling the young brigade, many amongst them managed to make it to the top consistently.
K L Rahul in particular, who had managed to feature himself in a few test matches for India in the past with a maiden century to his name, came out with an exceptional run in this concluding season of the Indian Premiere League where his team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, lead by the dynamic Virat Kohli had almost sealed the deal.
K L Rahul impressed this season at Harare both during the ongoing ODI's as well as the T20 format as he managed to not only score a century but also contribute consistently with the bat at the top of the order. In Dhoni's experiment in looking for the perfect all round pair, Mandeep Singh utilised the opportunity with both hands as he along with Lokesh Rahul made sure they have a win by 10 wickets during one of the 50 over format encounter with their reasonably competent opponent considering India's loss in one encounter during the more competitive T20 contest.
Ambati Raydu too managed to emerge as the second highest run scorer. Raydu, who has been in and out of the Indian squad had a fairly decent IPL season prompting the selectors to look at him all over again. Raydu too made sure that he manages to capitalise on the opportunity with 103 runs in his 2 matches with an average of 62.08.
As far as the bowling department was concerned, there seems to be no stopping Jasprit Bumrah: the new spearhead of the Indian Bowling attack. Bumrah's accuracy has been on display for the entire of last year shadowing the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami and others, who were otherwise a regular part of the Indian colours.
Bumrah, once again managed to deliver when it counts the most having the top figures as the tournament comes to a close. Bumrah, in his 3 matches managed to pick up as many as 9 wickets with only 77 runs slipped from under his belt. However, M S Dhoni's crisis man in the bowling department wasn't Jasprit Bumrah.
This time around it was Yuzvendra Chahal. Chahal too was coming in with a lot of good form and positivity under his belt as he too was from the Royal Challengers Bangalore and happened to be the a key wicket taker for that squad as well. That probably being on the of the central reasons for being picked for the Indian squad this time around, Chahal impressed all with 6 wickets in his 3 matches with again only 77 runs slipped from under his belt .
Apart from the two key strikers, India does seem to have a bright future with the bowling department as Dhawal Kulkarni, Birender Sran and Axar Patel too managed to get 5,4 and 3 wickets respectively mentioning a good bowling average throughout.
If that is the men's team, the women playing the game aren't too far behind. In Australia, Cricket is probably the biggest sport one can talk about. It is hence that it happens to be one of the few nations where there is a Cricket league for women too.
However, the sporting fraternity in India is now at its zenith as the franchisees at the Women's Big Bash league have shown keen interest in calling over some of the finest Indian talent to play for their respective teams during this season of the big bash. Maiden Champions, Sydney thunders have been very vocal about their interest in bringing on board the Indian players to keep their reign on the trophy.
Some of the key players on the wish list of the WBBL teams are Smriti Mandhana, Harmeet Kaur and Juhlan Goswami. Skipper Alex Blackwell of the Sidney Thunders confirmed to the media at a press conference that they do have one space vacant for an overseas player and are keen on the Indian participation. She further added that, “I think we saw in the Indian team some very dynamic players, including Veda Krishnamurthy and Harmanpreet Kaur, I think these two stood out.
And of course Jhulan Goswami, she’s a legend of the game and someone I’d love to see in the Women’s Big Bash. She’s a great team person and I’ve certainly enjoyed many battles with her over the years. We have a pretty solid team and we’re hoping our list stays consistent after a successful first year, but we have an opportunity to bring overseas players in and we’ll be looking to spend that spot wisely. Hopefully we’ll get one of the best players around the world. We’re the champion team and hopefully a team people want to play for, I’m looking forward to seeing who that person might be.”
Though all of this does sound like the perfect fairy tale, it is a matter of concern as the bench now, at least for the men's team, is too strong. In the longer run, if this remains, there won't be a star to look up to as opportunities for failure won't be accepted. The team to Zimbabwe is already too strong and to back that up, the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Mohit Singh and Umesh Yadav amongst many others are already in line further behind to occupy a given spot.