Former Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid backs IPL expansion

Dravid, who is now the director of cricket at the NCA in Bengaluru, feels that the addition of more teams will open more windows for young guns.

Former India captain Rahul Dravid has backed the move of adding one more team in the 2021 edition of the IPL.   -  FILE PHOTO/AP

The Board of Control for Cricket in India is keen on expanding the Indian Premier League in the 2021 edition by adding a new team. Former India and Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid has backed the move.

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“From a cricketing talent perspective, we are ready for an expansion. There are some incredible young talents in India that are waiting for the opportunity at the big stage. We have seen it this year. We will see a lot of new faces coming up if they get an opportunity,” Dravid said during the launch of A New Innings by Manoj Badale (the lead owner of Rajasthan Royals) and Simon Hughes on Friday.

Dravid, who is now the director of cricket at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru feels that the addition of more teams will open more windows for young guns. “There are some real talents who are not getting opportunities to play in the eleven. We have seen some of the young Indian talents in this IPL. Being involved with the U-19 team, it has been fantastic to see so many of those young boys who have come on and established themselves not only for their state teams but also in the IPL,” Dravid said.

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Badale, who has been part of the IPL since 2008, believes that a nine-team IPL can be a possibility even in 2021. “The concept of the IPL has always envisaged an expansion from eight to at least 10 teams. It’s not a new topic. We have had new 10 teams in the past and now, the IPL is getting bigger. The extension of franchises is inevitable and it is a good thing," he said.

While Rajasthan finished at the bottom of the table, Mumbai Indians clinched its fifth title under Rohit Sharma's captaincy. And Dravid believes the triumph is a result of maintaining the core. “What Mumbai Indians has done over the last four-five years is that they have maintained a really strong core of high quality players and mix them up by identifying some really good talented players,” Dravid said.

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“They have been able to spot Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya at a young age. Then there is Rahul Chahar, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav. The ability to maintain a core of very experienced senior players - world class T20 players - and balance them out with young exciting Indian talents has been the key. They have been able to do that exceptionally well. They have got a good scouting structure in place - a lot of teams are doing it well.”

“In the past, when young players were looking for opportunities, they only got that from state associations - and could only play for Ranji Trophy for their state. Now in IPL, you can be from Karnataka and can play for Mumbai. A good example is if you are in a state association like Haryana, where they have some good spinners - Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jayant Yadav. Someone like Rahul Tewatia probably doesn’t even get a chance in the T20 team. In the past that would have limited him from showing his talent. Today that does not stop him from playing in Royals," added Dravid.

Handling the bubble well

While the BCCI hosted this year's IPL inside a bio-bubble, there is a possibility that next year's tournament could also be played in a bio-secure environment. Badale believes that it is important to be sensitive to the mental health of the players inside the bubble. "The game’s regulators need to be very sensitive to the mental health impacts of the bio-secure environments. Initially I think everyone – players included – were just happy to be back playing," he said.

"However, prolonged periods of family isolation, travel isolation and social isolation are not sustainable. Equally, players will be nervous about making themselves ‘unavailable’ as there is so much competition for place," Badale said. So, what's the way out? "Clear rotational policies, breaks , and careful management of an over crowded calendar will be required," he added.

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