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All you needed to know, in quintets, about this IPL
April 2, 2013
Return of the fast bowlersIrfan Pathan, Delhi Daredevils
Zaheer Khan, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Was dropped from the Indian Test side after the Kolkata Test against England in December. Went back to India's first-class competition, the Ranji Trophy, to force a comeback, but injured his calf. Missed the final stages of Ranji Trophy. Is slowly working his way back to full fitness.
Munaf Patel, Mumbai Indians
Since India's World Cup win, in April 2011, has played two first-class games, 20 List A games, and 27 matches in the IPL. Began this season with appearances in the Challenger Trophy (the premier domestic one-day tournament), but then played only the Deodhar Trophy (the zonal one-dayers), after which he didn't represent Baroda in the domestic Twenty20s.
Umesh Yadav, Delhi Daredevils
Last played for India in the Ahmedabad Test against England in November 2012 before a stress reaction in the back ruled him out. Came back after rehab to represent Vidarbha in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (the domestic T20s), and took five wickets in the first match back.
RP Singh, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Has played only seven first-class games since his infamous Test comeback in August 2011, missing the whole 2012-13 season. Returned to action with his appearance for Air India in the Corporate Trophy in February 2013, and has represented Uttar Pradesh in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy since then.
Five with India stakesIndia's next international assignment will be the Champions Trophy, and there are ODI slots up for grabs. Here are a few who will want to make a case for themselves:
Virender Sehwag, Delhi Daredevils
Dropped from the ODI side after the Pakistan series in December-January, Sehwag will know the team still needs to firm up its opening options. He has not had enough time in domestic cricket to command a return, so he will be hoping for a bumper IPL season to remind the selectors of his existence before he is written off.
Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders
Hasn't lost his ODI slot yet, but is under pressure (one fifty in eight ODIs this season). Will have the added responsibility of the Knight Riders' captaincy. A solid showing with the bat and another strong performance from Knight Riders might be the best chance for him to keep his ODI place.
Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians
Rohit had a horrible limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka last year, which cost him his bench-warming privileges in Tests too. He has since come back with an innings of 83, opening against England, but that knock surely doesn't guarantee him a place in the side?
Ishant Sharma, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Ishant made his ODI comeback only because of injuries to other fast bowlers, and 12 wickets in eight matches on his return don't quite make him a certainty to hold down his place. However, he will have Waqar Younis and Dale Steyn by his side in the IPL, and that can't be a bad thing.
Unmukt Chand, Delhi Daredevils
An outsider, but Chand is a name that has been around for a long time, courtesy his under-19 performances, which include leading India to a World Cup victory. More recently, he scored back-to-back hundreds in the domestic Twenty20s.
First-timer foreign playersDarren Sammy, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Samuel Badree, Rajasthan Royals
Conceding 4.83 an over, Badree owns the best economy rate among bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 300 balls in Twenty20 cricket. It is surprising that it took this long for Badree to make his way into the IPL. Royals play their home matches on a slow pitch surrounded by a big outfield, so he should enjoy the experience.
Kusal Perera, Rajasthan Royals
Perera's last two international innings are 64 and 56 and, before that, 336 and 97 in first-class cricket. With a batting style resembling quintessential limited-overs man Sanath Jayasuriya's, he could be just the man Royals need.
Quinton de Kock, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Considered by many the best young player in South Africa, de Kock has averaged 38 at a strike rate of 141 over 36 T20 games. In JP Duminy's absence, de Kock - who can keep wicket when needed - has a good chance to make the starting XI in more than a few games.
Sachithra Senanayake, Kolkata Knight Riders
After their success with Sunil Narine last year, Knight Riders have signed another spinner who is difficult to pick. Expect turning pitches at Eden Gardens, and don't be surprised if both of the overseas spinners feature in home clashes.
Under the radarManprit Juneja, Delhi Daredevils
Sachin Baby, Rajasthan Royals
Named, according to legend, after Sachin Tendulkar, though he was born a year before the latter made his Test debut. Twenty-four years later, Baby could be playing against Tendulkar in the IPL. Baby doesn't have the stats so far, but there must be something in his attacking left-hand batting and part-time offbreaks that has attracted the interest of the franchise.*
Pravin Tambe, Rajasthan Royals
The most fascinating story leading up to this IPL. A 42-year-old legspinner from Mumbai, he has hardly played any official cricket, was picked for Mumbai's one-day side this year without getting a debut, and has now been picked by Royals. What was that line again, about legspinners maturing late?
Parvez Rasool, Pune Warriors
First came 594 runs and 33 wickets for this offspinning allrounder in the 2012-13 Ranji season, then a chance to bowl in the India nets, and eventually a place in the tour match against the Australians, where he took 7 for 45. Now he has an IPL contract with Pune Warriors, and a chance to enhance his reputation as the best-known cricketer from the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Baba Aparajith, Chennai Super Kings
Like Sachin Baby, Baba Aparajith and his brother Indrajith were born to a cricket-loving father. The twins are nicknamed Sachin and Sunny. Aparajith, who bowls with an action similar to R Ashwin's, is a useful allrounder, who played a crucial part in India's Under-19 World Cup triumph.
Missing in action
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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After the tragedy of Phillip Hughes' death, this match showed that cricket and life will continue to go on. This time Test cricket dug in and got through to tea.
Virat Kohli's innings on the final day transcended the conditions, the bowlers and his batting partners, and when it was all in vain, he displayed remarkable grace in defeat
The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game
Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena
The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be
Turning your back on a system that the whole cricketing world wants a discussion on, refusing to discuss it because it is not 100%, is not good enough
After a long time we have seen an Indian team and captain enjoy the challenge of trying to overcome stronger opposition in an overseas Test