IPL 2014 April 14, 2014

Attention on Yuvraj, Gambhir in IPL 2014

ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance

Kevin Pietersen
Booted out by England, Pietersen has begun his career as a T20 freelancer. He accepts that the chances of him being recalled by England are remote, so for an indefinite period, T20 leagues like the IPL are his future. The turbulent events following the Ashes didn't affect his stock in the auctions though - Delhi Daredevils bought him for Rs 9 crore ($1.5m, their second costliest purchase) and he was named captain of the franchise, too. He said the time away from the game has helped him re-focus, and the initial interactions with coach Gary Kirsten have been "fantastic." Now that he has committed himself to a full IPL season, England's loss could be Daredevils' gain.

Cheteshwar Pujara
It's ironic that Cheteshwar Pujara has played only 24 IPL games over four seasons. And only two ODIs for India, despite his impressive run in Tests. Pujara has long been regarded as a Test specialist, and though he figured in the ODI squad for the Asia Cup, he didn't get a game. Pujara, who was with Royal Challengers Bangalore last season, was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 1.9 crore ($316,000). He has a T20 strike rate of 103 and an average of just under 20, for a top-order player. His List A numbers are even more striking - an average of 55.03 in 70 games with nine hundreds and 20 fifties. Last IPL, he played four matches, with a highest of 51. Pujara may make the starting XI for Kings XI this season, in the top three. He is working on his bowling to boost his limited-overs CV. If he aims to make it to India's 50-over World Cup squad early next year, this IPL gives him an opportunity to seal a berth in India's ODI squad going forward.

Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj was vilified for his painstaking 21-ball* 11 that sucked the momentum out of India's innings in the final of the World T20 against Sri Lanka. This was just two innings after he scored a matchwinning 60 against Australia, where after a scratchy start, he brought out the repertoire of strokes he is known for. But unfortunately, the memories of the final will linger for a while and the best way for Yuvraj to set the record straight is to score big for Royal Challengers Bangalore. After all, public memory is short and a few good innings may help revive his confidence and form.

Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik has spent the majority of his international career fighting for a spot and, once in the XI, fighting to keep it. It has not been easy on him, as a wicketkeeper in MS Dhoni's era. A strong IPL 2013 for Mumbai Indians, with 510 runs in 19 games, was the break he needed to earn a recall for the Champions Trophy as a batsman. He wasn't consistent enough, making just two fifties since his comeback. However, he hit the jackpot at the auction, beating Kevin Pietersen as the most expensive buy for Delhi Daredevils at Rs 12.5 crore ($2.08 million). However, the auction happened before the Asia Cup, which was a forgettable tournament for Karthik who missed two crucial stumpings in two games while filling in for Dhoni. The IPL is a chance to justify his high price and keep his ODI spot.

Gautam Gambhir
Gambhir last played for India in January 2013 and since then has been ignored, along with Virender Sehwag. The attention has shifted to the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma duo as India's new opening pair in limited-overs cricket and Gambhir has since thrown his weight behind domestic cricket to make a comeback. He hasn't been in bad form - 743 first-class runs in ten matches with two centuries, 162 runs in five T20s, with one fifty, at a strike rate of 123.66. He was retained by Kolkata Knight Riders and will continue to lead the side. He insists that he isn't using the IPL as a launchpad for an India comeback, but a strong showing can only have a positive effect on his future.

*April 14, 2014 1534 GMT. An error which stated Yuvraj had scored an 11-ball 21 has been corrected

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 16, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    Nice article. Especially for Indian players IPL is always the door to rush in international. Though we hears freqent comments about IPL that it is harmful to international cricket, it is always considered as a door to international cricket. There are so many examples of Indian players whies international cr is boosted on their IPL performances. Suresh Raina is an important name about it. What we are watching is Rainas 2nd innings. He was out of the international team befire IPL due to bad form. But Raina cashed furst IPL, scored runs and immediately returned back to international ODI as well as T20 teams. This IPL is the best platform for UV, Zahir, Pujara & Gauti. Many people talking about Pujaras inclusion in the international team in shorter formats. Everybody knows about his ability of scoring runs in tests. But still Pujara needs to show his ability in shorter format also. Looking at Pujaras strike rate & avg in IPL, we can say this IPL may be fruitful for Pujara. All the best IND

  • Reza on April 16, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    Name just ONE Indian player hyped in the IPL done well in the National team? Over hyped epic failures: Mumpreet Gony, Dinesh Karthik, Stuart Binny, Murali Vijay, Yousuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ashok Dinda, Munaf Patel, Lakshmipathy Balaji, RP Sighn, Viney Kumar, Puiyush Chawla, Varun Aaron, Ryadu... and the list goes on and on and on...

  • Kashi on April 15, 2014, 16:05 GMT

    @Bhargava Ram the named players Johnson and Wastson were great test players even before they came to IPL. They were not discovered by IPL , but renowned She field Shield players too. Yes they lost form for a while and regained it in Ashes.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    @Prats6 - Pujara has to follow the innings building style of a Mahela, Sanga or Hodge. They don't go bang, bang. They wait for their time.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    @Kashi0127 - I don't quite understand why IPL shouldn't be the criteria. The kind of pressure that players go through in IPL is almost similar to International cricket. The level of cricket is also higher than a Vijay Hazare trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy (Indian domestic ODI and T20 competitions). So I totally believe IPL is a good criteria to select for ODI T20I teams. I am not saying we should select players for Test cricket. Johnson's comeback was a one-off case. But ideally we can't expect good IPL players also turn out to be good Test players.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    @Kashi0127 .. did you not see the coming back of Shane Watson and Mitchel Johnsom ...?

  • Pratyush on April 15, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    Although I am big fan of Pujara, I am not very hopeful of him doing particularly well. He tries to go in the 5th gear from the start of a game, which is always his downfall. I hope he gives himself a chance to build (yes, in a T20) an innings. He can accelerate when he is into his 30s. Will be a big tournament for Yuvi, hope he comes good. It was painful to see him struggle. Wish him well.

  • Sriram on April 15, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    Gauti's form in domestic has been up and down with some brilliant to some ordinary knocks. The only reason he is out of the team is coz did not get along with Duncan. Fletcher usually keeps people that make a little more noise and Gauti since that WC final has not shyed away from criticizing MSD. He still has it in him to play in 2015 WC, but honestly time is running out or probably ran out. I can't see selectors changing Rohit-Dhawan partnership rather let them grow into thier role for the WC. Apart from GG, Robin could be another competitor although both have a history of inconsistency. What are the chances of Rishi Dhawan or Irfan Pathan playing in WC, in my mind 0%. Raina is expected to be back for England ODIs and may stick around for the dynamism he brings in although Aus and NZ conditions are very different. Yuvi is an enigma! WC 2015 is almost sleected with RS,SD,VK,YV/AR,SR,MSD,RJ,RA,BK,MS,VA,IS,PC(luckfactor),DK,UY

  • Kashi on April 15, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    @Om Prakash IPL should and hopefully will never be considered for Test hopefuls or for that matter ODI prspects for the country. At best they may be selected to T20 tournaments. Do you see Hogg, Hodge being selected to Tests and ODIs just because they play IPL and perform?