IPL talking points: Pant deserves Indian summer at T20 World Cup

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9 Min Read
IPL talking points: Pant deserves Indian summer at T20 World Cup

A quick scan through the IPL stats will show you that Indian players are dominating this year.

At the time of writing, Travis Head is the only overseas batter in the top 11 run scorers and the top three wicket takers are all Indian. This isn’t a rare occurrence, though.

There are only three overseas batters in the top 12 IPL run scorers of all time (David Warner, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers) and three overseas bowlers in the top 11 wicket takers (Dwayne Bravo, Sunil Narine and Lasith Malinga).

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Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s Rajat Patidar smashes four sixes in a row against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League

In the early days after the first edition in 2008, most franchises struggled with a lack of depth in Indian players but years of IPL cricket has steadily improved the overall quality.

It has now got to the point where some teams are more than happy to pick only three overseas players for matches and we are now frequently seeing uncapped Indian players making match-winning contributions.

Quite a few foreign stars have taken the tournament by storm over the years but, make no mistake, one of the main reasons it is the biggest T20 competition on the planet is the success of the local players.

It’s a good time to be in form, too: May 1 is the looming deadline for international sides to announce their provisional squads for the T20 World Cup.

So, who are the runners and riders that are surging towards the finish line – and who is faltering?

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Watch the moment Virat Kohli reached his eighth IPL century for Royal Challengers Bengaluru, against Rajasthan Royals

Pant to win battle for gloves at T20 World Cup?

India probably have the hardest decisions to make, especially at the top of the order. The legends Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have shown they are still near the top of the T20 game.

Yashasvi Jaiswal started horribly but a timely century against Mumbai Indians means he will also probably go to the Caribbean. It’s tough on Ruturaj Gaikwad but I’m just not sure there is space for him.

In terms of power hitters, Shivam Dube has done his chances a lot of good with his blistering form for CSK which could be bad news for KKR’s Rinku Singh, who hasn’t quite got going yet.

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Ruturaj Gaikwad smashed a 56-ball century for Chennai Super Kings, his second in the IPL, against Lucknow Super Giants

Then there is the wicketkeeper situation. Jitesh Sharma started the tournament near the front of the queue but so far has a top score of just 29 for Punjab Kings. KL Rahul is always an option but if India take him, Kohli and Rohit they could lack power.

Ishan Kishan is another option but he wasn’t given a BCCI central contract this year and looks out of favour, so that brings us to one Rishabh Pant.

I wrote in my first piece that if he hits the ground running the Indian selectors will have a big decision on their hands and that is exactly what has happened.

Pant looks like he’s back close to his swashbuckling best and, in my opinion, has to go to the World Cup. He’s played every game for Delhi, and he’s ready.

Punjab Kings' Sam Curran (Associated Press)

Image: Punjab Kings’ Sam Curran has impressed in the IPL, with 11 wickets so far

Stoinis century boosts chances of Australia selection

As far as England are concerned, you wouldn’t say it’s been a vintage year for our players out there so far and it will be fascinating to see who Rob Key picks for the Pakistan series and the T20 World Cup.

Sam Curran may have bowled his way back into the team and with Ben Stokes not available and Jamie Overton potentially out injured, England could do with his all-round skills.

Jonny Bairstow’s lack of runs and dropping by Punjab is a big concern. However, I still think, because of his experience and versatility in the batting order, that he should be on the plane.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Travis Head smashed a half-century off just 16 balls against Delhi Capitals

Travis Head is a shoo-in for Australia after his barely believable ball-striking exploits in the powerplay. No one will be looking forward to bowling at him in the West Indies.

Marcus Stoinis was left off Cricket Australia’s central contract list but bizarrely will probably still make the squad, and he should after a stunning century for Lucknow against CSK in Chennai.

Most people would be amazed if Glenn Maxwell wasn’t also included, despite his self-dropping for RCB.

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Marcus Stoinis’ 124 off 63 balls powered Lucknow to a successful chase of 211 against Chennai, with the Australian hitting four boundaries in a row to win the game

The really interesting one is Jake Fraser-McGurk – do Australia want to take a risk and put him in the 15, even though he’s yet to play a T20 international? Without doubt he is an X-factor player and with Maxwell in the doldrums, I would take him.

Pitch imperfect?

Finally, you can’t write an IPL column these days without mentioning staggeringly big totals. Four times now teams have scored 266 or above!

While most of us do enjoy a high score, it’s been noticeable that a number of strong voices in the cricket community have shown concern that the balance between bat and ball has tilted way too much in favour of the batters.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad broke their own IPL Iinings record with a stunning 287-3 against RCB

I must say I agree and the main issues are the trueness of the pitches and the short boundaries in India. The boundary-size issue is not something that can be fixed that easily in some of the stadiums but the pitches can be.

It’s been noticeable how little help there has been for the spinners, which is a shame as one of the most enjoyable things about watching cricket in India is seeing batters having to counter high-quality spin.

I never thought I’d say this but hopefully the pitches will get more tired and worn in the second half of the season and slow these rampant batters down a bit!

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