While MS Dhoni has had his fairytale swansong in IPL 2023, the two-month-long tournament has raised several questions, from it being a tedious overture to a grueling season with a once-over shelf life. Indispensable greats. With the World Test Championship final, Asia Cup and ODI World Cup knocking at the door, My Kolkata Here’s a look at five questions raised by this year’s IPL that the national men’s cricket team will have to face.
Where does Yashaswi Jaiswal play?
(L-R) Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Yashaswi Jaiswal
Shubman Gill is the opener who has cemented his place across formats. He has been in the form of his life in this IPL, scoring 890 runs including three centuries, drawing comparisons with the all-time greats. Currently captain Rohit Sharma will be the batting line-up on the other side. But this election inevitably brings to mind the name of Yashaswi Jaiswal. The southpaw was the Emerging Player of IPL 2023 after scoring 625 runs. He has been called up to England’s WTC camp but is unlikely to get a national Test cap on Wednesday. Jaiswal will have to place in the top order if he wants to find a place in the Asia Cup and World Cup squads. Gill and Sharma will not be bothered in the short term, so Jaiswal will have to follow. Can he move down the order with an opener who has been nurtured with dedication by his IPL coach Kumar Sangakkara? Should Virat Kohli even be considered number three when he is there?
Who are the other batters?
Shikhar Dhawan and Ruturaj Gaekwad
The Jaiswal issue is a flip side to the persistent top-order logjam the national team has been dragging through for some time now. KL Rahul’s absence has brought Ajinkya Rahane back into the Test mix after his impressive cameos in IPL 2023. In ODIs, newcomers Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaekwad will compete for a place alongside ICC tournament veteran Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Rahul. While Gill, Sharma, Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya are assured in the squad, newcomers Tilak Verma and Rinku Singh do not get a look. All of them may get chances, in the West Indies team and none may score more runs in the pre-World Cup Asia Cup. Picking the best batting order for the World Cup can become unsettling with the game of weeny meeny mini mo.
Who keeps wickets?
Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat
Once we had MSD and he raised all the questions about wicketkeeper selection. Rishabh Pant, with his own rich heroics, was proving to be an able successor when he faced a terrible danger. Ishan Kishan has been replaced in the WTC final ahead of veteran Wriddhiman Saha, but few are at ease about his selection. And Kishan’s usual IPL didn’t help here. Another option is the batting equivalent of KS Bharat. Ball recovers, but is inconsistent for a few months. With Rahul also out of the equation for a similar amount of time, it will most likely be Kishan and Bharat across formats. Kishan is the best Indian cricket fans can hope for as he proves his mettle at the Oval until the ball hits the gloves again.
Who is returning to the team?
(Clockwise from top left) Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul
Jasprit Bumrah, Pant, Rahul and Iyer are the top four names in the list. Three of them missed out on IPL 2023, while Rahul pulled out midway due to injury. While all four are World Cup-eligible, they will return after long layoffs. India may or may not miss Iyer and Rahul in the WTC final, but they are certainly hurting the absence of Pant and Bumrah. Their return around the Asia Cup will be around 10-12 months after their last match. Given the extent of their injuries, it may be unfair to expect them to return to top form any time soon.
Ravichandran Ashwin or Shardul Thakur or Axar Patel?
(LR) Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel
Many argue that with the introduction of the Impact Player rule in the IPL this year, all-rounders have become less important. But not for Rahul Dravid, who has to pick the all-rounder tough in the WTC final. All three did not have an admirable IPL. The pace-friendly track at the Oval may tilt the scales in Thakur’s favour, but Ashwin, who has been one of the best Test performers of the last few years, is always going to be tough to rule out. Further complicating the decision is Axar’s IPL 2023 performance, better than Shardul’s with both bat and ball. With Ravindra Jadeja cementing his place across formats, it will be interesting to see how Dravid and Sharma crack the code to play another all-rounder in addition to Jadeja and Hardik Pandya.
Last updated on 06.06.23, 06:44 PM