As is the case with every start-up business, the first fiscal year is always uncertain. But team Hyderabad, with their new owners, coaching staff, team jersey, and team name ended the season in the green. Like the phoenix on their crest, the Sunrisers rose from the ashes of the now defunct Deccan Chargers, and made it to the final four and into the Champions League qualifiers.
Karan Sharma was one of the success stories in Sunrisers' solid run. The steely-faced Railways legspinner might prove to be the answer for India's ODI & T20I bowling woes.
Right through the season, while Steyn and Mishra kept chipping away at the wickets, Karan quietly went about his business. Karan picked up 11 wickets in 13 matches at an enviable 6.6 runs per over. Given that he was bowling alongside Dale Steyn, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma, these are noteworthy stats since he was the bowler the opposing batsmen targeted.
With a short-run up and a blink-and-you-miss-it action, he lets them rip with tremendous control. He has the googly, the quicker one, the straighter one, and the quintessential legspinner, and he can bowl each of them at will. He bowls a tight line, and forces batsmen to play across the line.
Moreover, he is sharp on the field. He often fielded at point, a position traditionally reserved for the best fielder in the team. The limited batting opportunities that he got showed that he can definitely tonk the ball.
It's time for India to plan for the next ODI World Cup in Australia-New Zealand. Presently R Ashwin is India's first-choice limited-overs spinner. Although Ashwin has shown his credentials at home in Test matches, he is yet to really nail down a spot in the other two. His performance in Australia during the CB Series in 2012 was patchy. The Indian team, which traditionally looks at spin as a wicket-taking option in ODIs, can do with an attacking back-up spinner. Moreover, Ashwin isn't the best fielder going around - he's often consigned to short fine-leg and the slips. Karan is a far better all-round fielding option.
In recent times Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, and Harbhajan Singh have had middling ODI returns with the ball. Harbhajan is known for his sporadic big-hitting, but other that, the trio doesn't bring too much batting or fielding nous to the table.
India should take a leaf out of Pakistan's victorious World Cup campaign of 1992. Although Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Aaqib Javed were dangerous upfront, it was Mushtaq Ahmed who played a pivotal role in the middle overs. With 16 wickets in 9 games, he was their second highest wicket-taker, which eventually proved to be the difference between Pakistan and the other teams.
Karan checks all the boxes, but he needs few international caps and the confidence of the selectors. If the Indian team thinktank wants to prepare him for the future, this is the best time to invest in his potential.
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