IPL 2022: This season has witnessed a fast bowling revolution

While some exciting young batsmen and bowlers have emerged, there’s not much to show in the spin department, traditionally India’s area of strength

Umran Malik of the Sunrisers Hyderabad has cranked up 150-kmph speeds consistently. — BCCI
Umran Malik of the Sunrisers Hyderabad has cranked up 150-kmph speeds consistently. — BCCI

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Fri 27 May 2022, 11:19 PM

Every season the IPL unfailingly throws up promising uncapped Indian cricketers who are fast=tracked into the national team. This year has been no different, but with a twist in the tale. While some exciting young batsmen and bowlers have emerged, there’s not much to show in the spin department, traditionally India’s area of strength.

Among uncapped batsmen to catch the eye have been Rajat Patidar (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi (Sunrisers Hyderabad),Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rajasthan Royals) and Tilak Varma (Mumbai Indians).

The highest run-getter among these is Abhishek Sharma (426). A stylsh 21-year-old left-hander who played for India in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, he was a key figure, along with Umran Malik, in Sunrisers Hyderabad running up a five-match winning streak before losing momentum.

Sharma’s teammate Rahul Ttripathi made 413 runs with strokes of such power and improvisations that he is now being touted as an India prospect. At 31, Tripathi is not a rookie, but if he can sustain this form, he could win higher honours as a T20 specialist.

Unfortunately for SRH, despite these two dashers at the top of the order, the team floundered because of lack of runs from overseas stars Kane Williamson (primarily) and Nicholas Pooran. Poised to make it to the playoffs, the team faded away as quickly as they had risen in the league stage.

Jaiswal is another former India Under-19 World Cupper (2020) who grabbed attention with his batting. One of three players retained by Rajasthan Royals, he started poorly and was dropped from the playing XI. The slender opener returned a player transformed, and finished with 215 runs from eight matches. Not too many one might argue, but the quality and fluency of his punchy strokeplay was important in Rajasthan reaching the playoffs.

Patidar, of course, earned wide recognition and applause for his century against Lucknow Super Giants which secured RCB a place in the last four. Till that innings, he had shown only middling form, but with 275 runs in the season, Patidar’s stock has risen high.

For many, though, the most impressive uncapped batsman has been Tilak Varma. The 25-year-old’s consistent and eye-catching batting was the saving grace for former champions Mumbai Indians, who finished bottom of the table. Varma showed flair and big-match temperament in scoring 397 runs for MI, most of these coming in crises. His captain, Rohit Sharma, had high praise for the youngster, marking him out as a prospective India player in all formats.

Where fast bowling is concerned, IPL 15 has turned out to be a bumper season with at least half a dozen youngsters making a strong impact, laying a claim for India honours. Among them Umran Malik (SRH) who cranked up 150-kmph speeds consistently and Arshdeep Singh (Punjab), who was arguably the best bowler in the ‘death’ overs’ have been rewarded with places in the India squad to play South Africa in the upcoming T20 series.

Apart from these two, other uncapped fast bowlers to impress were Kuldeep Sen (Rajasthan), Mukesh Choudhary (CSK) and Mohsin Khan of LSG. The last-named earned rave plaudits from many former players, including former master opener Sunil Gavaskar, for superbly controlled bowling at the start of the innings and at the close.

There have never been so many young Indian fast bowlers vying for attention. In fact, it’s a glut! And they are all bowling at 140-plus kmph, and coming from all over the country.

In contrast, there has been an acute absence of impact-making young/uncapped spin bowlers this season. Those to succeed are veterans like Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and R Ashwin. These three, it might be recalled, had also won their India caps based on performances in the IPL. However, not one new spinner has made the cut based on performances this season. In fact, bowlers like Washington Sundar and Varun Chakravarthy have lost their places in the T20 squad.

Perhaps shows how wide and deep the pace revolution in Indian cricket has been.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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