New stars twinkle on the IPL horizon

May 14th, 2008 - 11:07 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Avishek Roy
New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) There are countless young cricketers in India chasing a dream and waiting patiently for their day in the sun. Until recently, not many have been able to make it to the top, with the Tests and One-Day Internationals being the only avenues. But now the game has opened up and its latest version, the professional Indian Premier League (IPL), has rewritten the rules of the game. A new crop of younger players is hogging the limelight.

Manpreet Gony, Ashok Dinda, Abhishek Nayar and Wridhiman Saha would not have been known outside their own restricted zone unless they got into the national reckoning. But the IPL has made them the exciting new talent of Indian cricket.

Halfway through the inaugural Twenty20 tournament, the little known domestic stars are not only rubbing shoulders with the big stars of international cricket but are also the sought after.

The emerging talent from the IPL may or may not be dominating Test or One-Day cricket, but they will be part of the big IPL show for some more years.

Here are some of them:

Ashok Dinda:

Ricky Ponting finds him the most promising local talent in Kolkata Knight Riders. That’s something coming from one of the best-rated batsmen in the world. Dinda has already proved the Australian captain right.

The lean, hungry-looking young man could be an aberration for a fast bowler, but Dinda can surprise batsmen with the speed he generates with a whippy action and the leap before delivering the ball. The young man from Naichanpur village near Kolkata has consistently bowled at 140 kmph, raising quite a few eyebrows.

Sourav Ganguly is known to spot talented players and backing them. He has shown immense faith in Dinda and no wonder he gives the new ball to the latter, not to that new pace sensation Ishant Sharma.

Dinda has lived up to the expectations of his captain, giving important breakthroughs in almost all the matches, picking up three wickets against Deccan Chargers.

“He is a great prospect. I picked him up from nowhere for a Duleep Trophy game in 2005. He has pace and he can swing the ball,” said Ganguly.

Dinda’s coach Atal Dev Burman worked on his basics and thinks he should be going far.

Manpreet Gony: When television commentators spoke about a certain Gony in Chennai Super Kings, viewers confused the name with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain of the side.

Instead, a strapping, six feet four inches, broad shouldered, fast bowler was seen marking his line-up. Since their first match against Kings XI Punjab, Gony has made a mark with both ball and bat.

The Punjab pacer, with 11 wickets from nine matches, has emerged as one of the best strike bowlers in the tournament.

Gony has a smooth run-up to the wicket and can extract considerable movement off the pitch. His performance for Punjab was average this season and was not the first-choice pacer of Super Kings, who preferred Uttar Pradesh’s Sudip Tyagi. Injury forced Tyagi out of the tournament and that proved a boon for Gony.

Wriddhiman Saha: The wicketkeeper batsman of Knight Riders has shown that he can hold his own in the big league. Saha got a place in the Bengal Ranji team last season when the team saw an exodus of players to the rebel Indian Cricket League led by former India wicketkeeper-batsman Deep Das Gupta, who was also the captain of the Bengal team.

Saha grabbed the opportunity with both hands and struck a century on the debut against Assam.

When Knight Riders were down in the dumps at 50/5 while chasing 178 by Kings XI Punjab, Saha scored an explosive half-century in 28 balls that included four sixes and almost saw the team through. Saha has also kept well and has taken some good catches in the tournament.

Swapnil Asnodkar: The pint-sized Asnodkar resembles Romesh Kaluwitharana with his batting style. Asnodkar opened the batting for Rajasthan Royals in the first few matches and attacked the bowlers right from the start. The Goa batsman scored a match-winning 34-ball 60 against Knight Riders.

Asnodkar has been scoring runs consistently in domestic season for six years now and has been the leading run-getter for Goa in last four seasons. IPL is just the kind of platform that could give a boost to his career.

Yusuf Pathan: He has finally been able to come out of the shadows of his younger brother Irfan. Yusuf has been a prolific scorer in domestic cricket and has already belted some of the big sixes seen in the championship as the Rajasthan Royals opener.

Yusuf is a clean striker of the ball and has an entertainment value to his batting. His 34-ball 68 against Deccan Chargers is one of the best knocks of the tournament. In nine matches, Yusuf has stacked up 239 runs with three fifties.

Abhishek Nayar: The Mumbai Indians team might be studded with star players like Sanath Jayasuriya and Shaun Pollock, but Abhishek Nayar, with his gritty performance, has made sure that he is a vital member of the team.

The Mumbai Indians batting line-up failed in the first few matches of the tournament and it was left to Abhishek to take the fight to the opposition camp.

Nayar, scored a whirlwind 45 against Super Kings and together with Harbhajan Singh had almost hauled the stiff target of 208.

He played a crucial role in Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy win in 2006 but in the IPL, Nayar has shown the stomach to fight and the temperament to go with it.

Ravindra Jadeja: Jadeja has been more than a useful bat for Rajasthan Royals lower down the order. The all-rounder who bats left-handed and bowls orthodox spin is an attacking player and has often bailed his team out from difficult position.

Jadeja is particularly impressive with his quick footwork and pounces on loose deliveries. He played a match-winning 25-ball 36 against the Kings XI Punjab attack comprising Brett Lee, Sreesanth, James Hopes and Irfan Pathan.

Dinesh Salunkhe: The leg-spinner of Rajasthan Royals hardly has any experience in domestic cricket. Salunkhe, the winner of the Mumbai leg of cricket star contest, is a good turner of the ball and has played a crucial role in Royals’ attack.

Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne has been effusive in praise of youngsters Ravindra Jadeja and Dinesh Salunkhe.

“Ravindra Jadeja and Dinesh Salunkhe are talented and are the superstars in the making,” the Australian spin legend keeps harping.

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