How to catch an IPL scout’s eye! 

The Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, divided into zones, is turning out to be the IPL trial room for the players; T.A Sekhar — who is helping Mumbai Indians plan its army — laid out a blueprint.

Sekhar has previously worked with Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. This year he will be working with the Mumbai franchise again.   -  R. Ravindran

Over the years, the Indian Premier League (IPL) developed as a channel to the Indian cricket team. Every cricketer wants to be a part of it; players like Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah — who took the Mumbai Indians ladder — are examples of success through the cash-rich league. 

So what does a cricketer need to do to be a part of an IPL franchise? Former India cricketer and a renowned coach for many years, T.A. Sekhar, laid out a blueprint. On Tuesday, Sekhar was in New Delhi as an IPL scout to catch the North Zone battle, between Delhi and Punjab, of Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.

Variations and powerplay

“We are looking at fast bowlers who could bowl during powerplay as well as during the death overs. If it is a spinner, he should be able to bowl an over in the powerplay and contain batsmen, who are known for going after bowlers,” Sekhar told Sportstar.

The veteran was a key strategist with the Delhi Daredevils till the last edition of the tournament. This season, he moved back to Mumbai Indians and is currently helping the franchise plan its army. 

“If it is an opening batsman, then we are looking at how he handles fast bowlers and whether he can hit the ball or gives away more of dot balls. A middle-order batsman should be able to rotate the strike. We are also looking at a batsman who can hit sixes and fours in the last four overs. A fast bowler should have variations — yorkers, slower balls, slow bouncer and the bouncer. He should be able to use all the variations effectively,” he revealed the cut-off.

Sekhar also stated that there is a difference in quality between the IPL and the domestic stage. “A fellow who has done well in domestic cricket may not deliver the same at the IPL stage,” he added.

Fitness is the key

Two out of favour India players — Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir — slammed half-centuries — 50* (40) and 66 (54) — respectively in today’s game between Delhi and Punjab, which the latter won by two runs.

Yuvraj scored an unbeaten 50 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in Delhi on Tuesday.   -  Sandeep Saxena

 

Sekhar acknowledged the performances of the seasoned players. “We know what they are capable of. We are now looking whether they are fit. IPL is a tournament, where every player wants to be fit. People are unfit during the domestic season but they are all getting fit before the IPL. I think IPL is the best physio,” he reasoned.

Though Sekhar is primarily known for being a bowling coach, he didn’t divulge names of bowlers who impressed him in the game. “It will create unnecessary pressure on the players and I don’t want that.”

A secret affair

Another IPL scout, from a top IPL franchise, has also been travelling around India to scout talent through the zonal T20 tournament. On the condition of anonymity, he said, “We are looking at players who are IPL-ready. By now, the cricketers are aware of the demands of the league.”

Since the auction, scheduled on January 27 and 28, is supposed to be a strategy-based affair, most franchises are being tight-lipped about their vision for the coming season. “We have specific inputs from the directors and management. It is difficult to talk on the kind of players we are looking at,” said a source close to Royal Challengers Bangalore.