x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The new stars who have emerged from shadows of the IPL

When India won the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in September 2007, no one had any idea as to what shape or form the Indian Premier League would take.

Shikhar Dhawan of Deccan Chargers plays a shot during an Indian Premier League match against Kings XI Punjab
Shikhar Dhawan of Deccan Chargers plays a shot during an Indian Premier League match against Kings XI Punjab

When India won the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in September 2007, no one had any idea as to what shape or form the Indian Premier League would take.

Yet, by the time they arrived in England to defend their title two years later, the IPL was already the jewel in cricket's commercial crown. The debates had begun in earnest about its ill effects, especially its impact on the national team's fortunes.

Shane Warne, a US$400,000 (Dh1.47 million) signing for the Rajasthan Royals, provided the story of the first season, taking his unfancied team to the title.

A year later, his Australia teammates grabbed the limelight. Matthew Hayden was the leading run scorer, while Adam Gilchrist's blazing 35-ball 85 was the catalyst for the Deccan Chargers' shock victory.

In 2010, Warne's adversary, Sachin Tendulkar finished top of the run charts. A year later, he was third on the list, upstaged by the devastating hitting of Chris Gayle, a midseason signing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Whatever the IPL became was because of the efforts of these legends of the game. Without the tantalising prospect of Warne taking on Tendulkar, or Sourav Ganguly facing up to Glenn McGrath, the crowds would not have flocked in for those early games.

There was just one problem though. The big guns were getting on. McGrath did not play a game the second season. Hayden wasn't invited back after the third. Warne decided to go after the fourth, while Gilchrist has announced that he will not be back playing in 2013.

This season, though, the league has moved on from the established greats. Gayle, top of the run charts by a distance, and Morne Morkel, the leading wicket taker with 25, may be experienced internationals, but there are plenty of others in the top 10 who represent the game's future. In fact, you could put together a formidable IPL XI with them alone.

Shikhar Dhawan finished with 569 runs for an abysmal Deccan Chargers side, although he is a fair way down the pecking order as far as India's selectors are concerned. His opening partner would be Ajinkya Rahane, who buttressed his incredible first-class statistics with 560 IPL runs at an average of 40.

Cameron White, no longer a fixture in Australia's limited-overs side, would be at No 3. His 479 runs were scored at a tremendous strike rate of 149.68, making the Chargers' overall failure even more mystifying.

Rohit Sharma, who scored one of the most aesthetically pleasing Twenty20 centuries, would follow, having made 433 runs. He has played a lot of one-day games for India, but was still considered too much of a risk for the World Cup last year.

Robin Uthappa made 405 runs in a hapless Pune Warriors India team and will surely be considered when India choose a side for the World T20 in Sri Lanka. Mandeep Singh, who scored 432 runs for mid-table Kings XI Punjab, might also be a wild card.

The all-rounder slot would go to Kieron Pollard, for 220 runs, 16 wickets, and fielding ability almost unreal for such a big man. A West Indian teammate would be the bowling star. Though he didn't get a wicket in the final, Sunil Narine befuddled most batsmen he came across on his way to 24 wickets.

There would also be place for Umesh Yadav, whose pace and aggression complemented Morkel so well as Delhi finished top of the table. The two unlikely picks, who finished with 36 wickets between them, are Vinay Kumar and Parvinder Awana. Vinay is on the fringes of the Indian side, and Awana will be there soon, especially if he can keep bowling at 140kph.

After riding piggyback on big names for four seasons, the IPL finally appears to have unearthed a new power generation.

Who would be in your IPL XI from this season?  Let us know.

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