IPL 2019: Most Indian World Cup-bound players feature in all matches

Thankfully for India, its main players escaped injuries in the T20 league.

Mumbai Indians players Hardik Pandya (left) and Jasprit Bumrah (right) will have competed in 16 matches by the end of the final on Sunday.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Managing the workload of Indian players who are part of the 15-man squad for the World Cup was an important consideration for captain Virat Kohli before the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Most of them, however, have ended up playing almost all the matches in the cash-rich league.

Kohli had indicated at the start of the IPL that if any players felt they needed any rest, they should go ahead keeping the World Cup in mind. “If I’m able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest,” he had said before the opening match of the IPL.

This was easier said than done in a league where private franchises would demand everything from their star players. And it did happen that way. Kohli, Rohit Sharma, K. L. Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Dinesh Karthik, and Kedar Jadhav played all their 14 league games.

Vijay Shankar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar played 15 games.

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Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have already played 15 matches, and will have completed 16 — including the final on Sunday. After the final, M. S. Dhoni will have completed 15, too.

The only member of the World Cup-bound squad who has played less than 10 games in the IPL is chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. Yadav was dropped by Kolkata Knight Riders after nine games due to poor form.

Read | Selectors to give Kedar Jadhav time to recover

Dhoni missed a couple of matches due to a stiff back, while Rohit was unfit for one game. Among others, Jadeja missed a game while Kedar was pulled out of the IPL after hurting his shoulder in the final league game.

No injuries

Luckily for India, India’s main players escaped injuries. The South African team wasn’t so lucky — pacers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada are now racing against time to be fit for the World Cup.

As someone who also leads from the front when it comes to fitness, Kohli knows what he is doing. But as he had said at the start of IPL, what works for him might not work for others. “Someone else’s body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing. And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don’t want to miss out on such a big event,” Kohli had said.

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A batsman like Rahul used the IPL to hit top form ahead of the World Cup but managing workload is always a bigger concern for the fast bowlers. While playing all the games does take a toll on the body, the counter-argument presented by Rohit ahead of the IPL final also holds weight. “We spoke at the start of the tournament [about workload management]. Like in Jasprit’s case, he is someone who likes to play games to make sure that he is in good rhythm. We spoke at any given stage, if he feels the need to rest, we were open for it. Anyone who plays the IPL and goes to a big tournament [like the World Cup]. I feel it keeps them very much in touch with their game. It is great tournament to hit form in. Hardik is one example,” said the Mumbai Indians captain.

Added Rohit: “He was injured before the IPL, missed a few games as well (for India), now he has done tremendously well for us. You can judge yourself where you are at ahead of a big tournament like the World Cup.”

Left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav played less than 10 IPL matches as he was dropped due to poor form. Photo: G. P. Sampath Kumar

 

Commenting on how international players looked after their bodies during the league, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) physio Brett Harrop and Delhi Capitals scouting head Pravin Amre said the cricketers managed their workload like thorough professionals.

'Thorough professionals'

In Capitals’ case, Dhawan and Rishabh Pant were in the World Cup scheme of things but in the end, only the veteran opener made the cut. “The players (Indians and even foreigners) are thorough professionals. They know the importance of a World Cup. They took couple of days off whenever there was a window. They were wary of their niggles and made sure it did not lead to an injury. That precaution was always taken,” said Amre, who played the 1992 World Cup.

“Our team surely wanted to win but not at the cost of risking players’ participation in the World Cup. There is also a two-week break before the World Cup and I feel it is enough time to recharge your batteries,” added Amre.

In case of Rahul and Shami, the KXIP duo preserved their energy by not taking part in majority of the optional practice sessions, said Harrop. “The players were given hand-outs from the Indian team physio and they were just following that. Since they played all the games and were match-fit, it made sense to skip the optional practice session. They did not spend a lot of time in the gym and just focused on recovery,” said the Punjab team physio.