VISAKHAPATNAM: Cricket has grown by leap and bounds in the country especially since the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is ecstatic not only about the phenomenal reach of the IPL but also the amount of money it is generating.
Speaking about the cash cow tournament, Sourav, at the India Leadership Council Event last week, said: “I’ve seen the game evolve, where players like me earned a few hundreds and now have the potential of earning crores. This game is run by the fans, by the people of this country, and by the BCCI, which was formed by cricket fans. This sport is strong and will continue to evolve. The IPL generates more revenue than the English Premier League. It makes me feel happy and proud that the sport I love has evolved to become so strong.”

The former Indian captain, who is credited with transforming the team into an aggressive match-winning unit, going gaga over the success of the IPL is understandable. The IPL has proved to be a bonanza for the players. Several of them have become overnight crorepatis. But has the IPL always been good for the game is a debatable question? However, players, who have attained stardom in the IPL, haven’t always come good while playing for the country. And this is a real cause for worry.
The players who have been picked for the T20I series against South Africa have done quite well for their teams this season. KL Rahul (616), who finished second to Jose Buttler, Hardik Pandya (487), Deepak Hooda (451), Ishan Kishan (418), Shreyas Iyer (401), Ruturaj Gaikwad (368), Rishabh Pant (340), Dinesh Karthik (330) did well with the bat.
Yuzvendra Chahal, who topped the bowling charts with 27 wickets, Umran Malik (22), Kuldeep Yadav (21), Harshit Patel (19), Avesh Khan (18), Ravi Bishnoi (13), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (12), Arshdeep Singh (10), Hardik Pandya (8) were among the successful bowlers.
However, India, who are ranked No.1 in the ICC T20I rankings, are facing a crisis of sorts against the fourth-ranked South Africa side. The home side has been completely outclassed by their rivals in the first two matches of the five-match series.
The South Africans seem to be hungry for success, especially those players who had limited time on the field for their franchisees or were snubbed at the IPL auction. Rassie van der Dussen, who just got to play three games for Rajasthan Royals, made the Indians pay in the first game in the company of in-form David Miller. At Cuttack, it was Heinrich Klaasen, who was brought in as a replacement for the injured Quinton de Kock. Klaasen, who has played a few games without much success for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals earlier, was ignored by the franchisees at the 2022 mega auction.
Another player who is proving his worth is skipper Temba Bavuma. The diminutive opener is leading the side well and making all the right moves on the field. The South African fancies playing in the IPL. “I’d like to play there. The stronger my performances, the more realistic the opportunity becomes. I’ve also developed this fantasy of captaining a team. I don’t know where that comes from. I’d like to get that experience as well. But I kinda need to get into a team before that happens!” he had remarked in an interview earlier this month.
Another surprising thing is that though India is the top side in T20Is, none of the players figure in the top 10 bowling and all-round charts. It is something for the selectors and team management to ponder on. The only saving grace is KL Rahul, who is placed 10th in the batting chart. South Africa are ranked 4th but they have more players in the individual rankings. Aiden Markram (2nd) and van der Dussen (8th) are the two batsmen in the top 10. On the bowling front, Tabraiz Shamsi (1st) and Anrich Nortje (7th) are among the top 10. There are no Indians in it.

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