IPL and unlikely heroes

Ishant Sharma has looked confident in the first few matches that he has played in IPL 4.-AP

This IPL edition is new in several respects and the inclusion of two new teams has provided some great opportunities for a few more aspiring cricketers in the country.

IPL 4 has got underway and if the first week is any indication, the interest factor has passed muster with the crowds turning up enthusiastically to support their home/favourite teams.

This edition is new in several respects and the inclusion of two new teams has provided some great opportunities for a few more aspiring cricketers in the country. Whether the interest will be sustained is something that remains to be seen as the duration of this edition is longer as a result of more matches having to be played.

Lalit Modi will follow the IPL 4 with more than passing interest and will be quick to pick on anything amiss. The political side of the IPL apart, the high profile tournament will be a superb opportunity for some youngsters to make a mark as well as for some cricketers to regain their confidence by performing against quality opponents.

The likes of Ishant Sharma will need to look at this tournament as the ideal platform to get back into the groove. Ishant has looked confident in the first few matches that he has played, apart from giving the impression that he is enjoying his bowling. His run up looks smoother and his delivery stride is more in line towards the target which is enabling him to be consistent in terms of line and he has also worked up a reasonable speed.

He may go for runs but his priority should be to sort out a few flaws that has crept into his bowling sometime ago. Even though he will get only four overs to bowl in a game, he will be up against some very high quality batsmen and if he can create a few problems for them amidst going for runs, he should be happy. There is no doubt that this may not be the right format for a bowler to gain his lost ground but each game in IPL is a high pressure one and as such Ishant can take heart from every positive that he can from this tournament.

Another cricketer who will desperately look to utilise this platform to revive his career is Irfan Pathan. He has been plagued by injuries in the recent past which did not help his waning form and the all-rounder will be keen to make a real big impact. This is an ideal stage for an all-rounder like him and his shift to the Daredevils will help him immensely as he will be expected to be the leading performer.

Such kind of expectation and responsibility can bring the best out of a cricketer and if the Baroda left-hander can turn it on, his progress will be followed closely by the selectors as the pace attack is not really settled as yet in the one-dayers and the search for an all-rounder has not ceased either. The younger Pathan has to realise that his elder sibling caught the selectors' attention in the IPL and hence there is a lot at stake for him in this edition. He should also remember that India will be playing a lot of international cricket and a few good performances will help his cause in a big way. It remains to be seen if Irfan Pathan can make the most out of his opportunities and thereby make everyone sit up and notice.

The IPL does throw up a few unlikely heroes and the one who has caught the attention is Paul Valthaty. Not many would have heard his name a few days ago but his performances against the CSK and the DC has propelled him into the orbit. His success has reminded the press and his contemporaries of his talent but the young man will start feeling the pressure henceforth. How well he handles the pressure that limelight and an overnight reputation bring about will be the key to his continued success.

Prior to the CSK game he would have been happy to get a game on a regular basis but his scintillating century against the holders has changed everything for the seemingly unassuming all-rounder. The confidence of a century rubbed off on his bowling as well and for the time being it does seem that he can't do anything wrong. For a cricketer who had somehow lost his way, Valthaty will feel blessed that he got the opportunities to showcase his talent. Ironically, he may be chosen now by his state selectors based on his success in the shortest form of the game. It happened to Manish Pandey a couple of years ago and there is every possibility of the same thing to a few in the future as well. After all, one of the objectives of the IPL was to give youngsters a chance to display their talent, wasn't it?