As IPL prepares for its 10th edition, the tournament has been given a minor setback as many star players are missing some, or all, of the tournament due to various injuries. The long list of injured players includes: Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Murali Vijay, AB de Villiers, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock.
India had a long Test season, playing 13 Tests at home. The fatigue has got to the players and Ashwin, Rahul and Vijay - all of whom played major roles in the Tests - are set to miss out the entire IPL. Kohli’s injury will be reassessed in the 2nd week of April, while Jadeja and Umesh are set to miss the first couple of games.
The injury to these players puts the focus on the youngsters who are always looking to make a mark in the IPL. This time the added incentive is the selection for the Champions Trophy 2017 in England, which begins right after the IPL.
The Indian ODI XI is not exactly settled and the fact that they have played only 16 ODIs since the start of 2016 shows the lack of practice in the 50 over format. Only Bangladesh has played fewer ODIs in the same time period with 12. The showcase event in England, which India won the last time around, offers youngsters a great chance to show their mettle.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli form the core of the Indian top order. The search for a reliable opening partner for Rohit Sharma is still on, considering both KL Rahul or Ajinkya Rahane have been unable to cement their position at the top.
The likes of Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, both of whom received their maiden India calls this home season, will be looking to capitalise on the absence and uncertainty over Rahul’s injury and the fact that Rohit Sharma himself is coming out of a long injury layoff.
India’s middle order looks set with Yuvraj, Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav all clicking. Yet there will be added pressure on them to do well, especially Yuvraj, as Suresh Raina (who has been considered a like-for-like replacement for years and does better with the ball with the new fielding rules) will be looking to make his comeback.
Apart from the opener’s slot, the Indian selectors will closely be monitoring the spot for the spinner as there is uncertainty over Ashwin’s fitness and Ravindra Jadeja who has been quite lacklustre in the ODI format, averaging 53.47 in 20 ODIs since the start of 2015.
Axar Patel and Amit Mishra, both of whom are India’s top ranked ODI bowlers, will be looking to make a case for themselves. Moreover, Yuzvendra Chahal did exceptionally well in the T20Is vs England and will be looking forward to don the blue jersey in the 50 over format once again.
Mohammed Shami, who has been in and out of the side due to injury ever since the 2015 World Cup, will want to prove his fitness to the selectors as he is India’s premier fast bowler and would love to bowl in England’s seamer friendly conditions.
Apart from the injury front, India hasn’t played a lot of T20Is since the WT20 in 2016. It will be interesting how these players adapt themselves quickly from the Test mode as there are tons of local players who participated in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Tournament.
These factors coupled together, the IPL 2017 seems like a mouth-watering tournament as we enter its 10th edition.
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