An IPL record of 25 wickets in 31 matches for a frontline bowler is woeful. Ishant was an accurate pacer operating in the high 140s. But since IPL 1, his pace has slid steadily, his confidence dips when under attack, and he has lost his edge. From being Zaheer Khan’s understudy, he’s joined India’s burgeoning army of also-ran pacers. But if he wishes to, he can start his turnaround now. A good run in the IPL would boost his chances of returning to the team that left him out of the World Cup. A lot will depend on how Kumar Sangakkara handles him.
Irfan has gone from being India’s most exciting all-rounder since Kapil Dev to its biggest regret. He was the player you built a team around. But he slowly lost his swing and pace and veered out of limelight. The good news is he has been plotting his comeback. With him in form and good health, India can have the luxury of five bowlers — and we know how MS Dhoni favours pacers — and we know he can bat in just about any situation. IPL 4 is where Irfan’s comeback begins. A good tournament for him could signal a good year for Indian cricket. He is that valuable.
A hugely talented, attractive, attacking right-handed batsman. A fielder par excellence. Abhishek Nayar would know. Unfortunately, Pandey found himself on the wrong side of the IPL authorities and will have to serve a four-match ban before he can play for Pune. His hundred in IPL 2 dumped Chennai out of the tournament. He has scored heavily in First Class cricket too. A good T20 season would put him in the running for an India cap.
Players like Uthappa are the pulse of Indian cricket. They have the ability to do the difficult things right. In Uthappa's case he can draw in the crowds, score incredibly quickly and make very good bowlers look very silly. Like Irfan, he is on a comeback trail. He underwent a shoulder surgery, went into rehab and put on weight. It was a difficult time for him. In January, he was bought by Pune for $2.1 million, underlining his worth.
Around 2005, India had one of the best pace attacks in the world. Exciting new talents were being churned out every few months. RP Singh was one of them. Having played important roles in Indian wins, most notably Perth 2008, RP has followed the plot familiar to most other pace finds of his time. He was discarded from the Indian team after the Champions Trophy in 2009. Zaheer Khan needs a suitable ally. Can RP spring back into reckoning?
Rahul Dravid's Test career is on its last legs. VVS Laxman isn't too far from saying his goodbyes either. Pujara has already broken into the Test squad, and we know he has the talent and appetite for big runs. A T20 tournament is no gauge for Test match skills, but it is important Pujara underlines his importance in Indian cricket with some more good performances.
So much talent, but such little results. Here's one guy who can bat, bowl and field like a dream. Yet you wonder why Rohit has still not "arrived". A penchant for the high life could be a reason. Rohit's closest competitor in the Indian team could be Virat Kohli. Both rose to prominence after their successes at junior World Cups. Virat grew up quickly and made the mental adjustments necessary for international cricket. He is a middle-order rock for India and it won't be long before he even breaks into the Test side. As for Rohit, we're waiting for him to grow up.
Badri is now on the wrong side of 30 and not far from being one of the most talented batsmen in international cricket to not get their dues. He's played two Tests and three ODIs, which is too less for someone of his abilities. With the retirement of Indian greats imminent, it is important Badri keeps making big runs to stay on the radar of the national selectors.
A trumpcard. Meet Varun. He is India's fastest bowler at the moment, having clocked top speeds of 153 KMPH. He is from Bangalore but grew up in Jharkhand, whom he represents in the Ranji Trophy. He was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders early on, but couldn't play because of a stress fracture. He's been training at the MRF Pace Academy and has been picked by Delhi for the IPL. Wouldn't fans of Indian cricket love this 21-year-old to blow batsmen away?