Monday, Aug 15, 2022
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India’s Youth Power Coming Alive, Why IPL Is The World’s Greatest Cricket Academy

Former England batting and IPL star Kevin Pietersen compares Indian cricket to Australia of the late Nineties and early 2000s.

Sanju Samson and Devdutt Padikkal define the youth force of Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022.
Sanju Samson and Devdutt Padikkal define the youth force of Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022. BCCI

If modern-day world cricket is all about youth and power, look no farther than the Indian Premier League. Since IPL came into existence in 2008, it was meant to give India’s emerging talent an opportunity to fast track their talent to the highest echelons of the game and also rub shoulders with the best in the business.

(IPL SCHEDULE | IPL POINTS TABLE)

Into its 15th edition, IPL continues to serve its purpose and right at the fountainhead of this talent-finding ecosystem is a slew of Indian prodigies that make Indian cricket a superpower. On Tuesday night, Rajasthan Royals suffered their first defeat in IPL 2022 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

One of the most balanced sides in the competition, RR are led by Sanju Samson, a rare combination of brain and brawn. Samson scored 8 runs against RCB but he started with a 55 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and scored a quick 30 versus Mumbai Indians to show his intent this season.

Branded as a batting beauty by Indian captain Rohit Sharma, Sanju Samson is among the contenders to make the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

The 27-year-old Kerala youngster has already caught the eye of former England star Kevin Pietersen. “Sanju Samson has been a wonderful player for a little while now. I just love watching him bat,” said Pietersen

It’s not only Samson who are riding the crest of a youth wave in IPL. In the IPL auctions 2022, RR have carefully invested in youngsters with a future. The mega auction and the IPL’s retention policy enabled teams to pick from a bigger pool of players and the RR management seems to have picked a team with great balance.

Playing alongside Samson are top-order batsmen Devdutt Padikkal, who impressed with his form with RCB in IPL 2020, and Yashasvi Jaiswal, a former India Under-19 player.

DESI TALENT

These immensely talented youngsters provide a silver lining to teams like Rajasthan Royals, who already have such skillful white-ball international stars like England’s Jos Buttler and West Indian Shimron Hetmyer.

“I’ve said on many occasions about how this competition (IPL) is the greatest cricket academy in the world. So many stars of the game were born in it and we are seeing some of the best young players come to the fore already this year,” said Kevin Pietersen, a former IPL veteran.

IPL 2022 will be the starting point for many players to prepare for the T20 World Cup. Several Australian players like David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are waiting to start with their respective teams. Aussie T20 skipper Aaron Finch finally showed some form in the one-off T20 against Pakistan in Lahore on Tuesday night to back himself for a season with IPL 2021 finalists, Kolkata Knight Riders.

Ishan Kishan's batting will be crucial for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022.
Ishan Kishan's batting will be crucial for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2022. BCCI

But it will be the Indian youngsters who will continue to grab the spotlight. Prominent among them will be Ishan Kishan. Mumbai Indians spent a record INR 15.25 crore to buy him back from the IPL auction pool since the young wicket-keeper-batsman could not be retained. MI will bank on Kishan and another young man Suryakumar Yadav this season.

BIG TRIBUTE

“We know how competitive the fight for places in India’s batting line-up is. You’ve already got established names like KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and then there are a glut of younger guys all competing for the other spots.

“Ishan Kishan has also started this competition brilliantly, while Mayank Agarwal, Suryakumar Yadav, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer are all in the picture, too.

“It reminds me of the Australian team of the late nineties and early 2000s, when Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and the Waugh brothers were on the scene. Mike Hussey was one of the best first-class batters around and couldn’t get a game. Indian cricket looks in a similarly healthy spot now,” says Pietersen.

IPL 2022 is just hotting up. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings, under new captain Ravindra Jadeja, have suffered a record hat-trick of defeats while five-time champions Mumbai Indians have lost both their opening games. MI face Kolkata Knight Riders in a blockbuster game on Wednesday night.

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