10th edition of IPL has already commenced. There may be varied opinion and controversies about this mega event but in totality it has been a hugely successful event right since beginning.
The first edition started in 2008, which was Silver Jubilee year of India’s finest moment on Cricket field– World Cup triumph in 1983.
1983 World Cup victory triggered a paradigm shift in Cricket‘s ecosystem in India. That was start of India’s journey of becoming global hub of Cricket. Money started flowing in. In 1987, World Cup was played in Indian sub-continent (moved out of England first time).
The change was not limited to administration but was visible in profile of cricketers. The players started coming out of typical Test match mould and we started witnessing more natural hitter of balls and better athletes on ground.
2007 – T20 victory was another turning point for Indian Cricket and that paved the path for IPL.
Nine editions of leagues so far have witnessed many super performing Indian cricketers. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma are few names, who instantly come to mind.
Legends like Tendulkar, Sehwag, Ganguly, Dravid and Kumble could have IPL stint during last phase of their career.
However there are players, who could not play in IPL as their career was over before 2008, but they could have potentially been great IPL performers. Let’s have look at few of those outstanding IPL performers, we never had:
Throughout the decade of nineties, Ajay Jadeja remained a top class ODI performer. Jadeja was outstanding fielder and had a natural ability to score runs with brisk pace. Jadeja announced his arrival at international arena with a bang when he took an outstanding catch in deep to dismiss Allan Border in his first ODI, played at Brisbane (Australia) during 1991-92. After starting his career as opener in ODI, Jadeja switched to middle order during 1996 Wills World Cup. This is where on March 9th 1996, Ajay Jadeja became national heartthrob during quarter-final match against Pakistan. Batting down the order, Jadeja went berserk during last three overs of the Indian innings. He scored 45 runs of just 25 deliveries and India scored 51 runs in three overs. Jadeja’s sixes of Waqar Younis put whole Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bangalore on fire. Till the time his career had a premature end in the year 2000 due to match fixing menace, Ajay Jadeja remained a key batsman in ODI down the order. Apart from this, he was a handy medium pace. Like Suresh Raina, Jadeja could have been a top IPL star, had he played in this league.
Not many realize this, Azharuddin held world record of fastest ODI hundred (62 balls) against his name for whopping 7 ½ years. Classy Azhar was in his own league due to his wristy and classy batting style. Azhar had the ability to keep score board ticking irrespective to the conditions and he would score runs at brisk pace without taking aerial route. At the peak of his form, Azhar was even scoring Test centuries at a pace of run a ball (he once scored a Test century of just 74 balls). In 1990, Azhar scored 100 runs in a single session of Test in England. In 1991-92 at Adelaide, Azhar hit 17 boundaries during a knock of 106 while facing insane swing and pace bowling.
Azhar was outstanding runner between the wickets that would allow him to rotate strike immaculately and he would hardly concede dot balls. And last but not the least, he has been one of the most outstanding fielders, India has ever produced. It would really have been a treat to see Azhar leading one of the IPL team (may be Sunriser Hyderabad).
What about a number six batman who took his team total from 17 for 5 to 266 in an ODI innings and contributed 175 in the pursuit. That’s Kapil Dev for you and it was his famous knock during 1983 World Cup. Once a highest Test wickets taker in the world, Kapil actually has been one of the most destructive batsmen India has ever produced. Kapil had the uncanny ability to score runs when they really mattered for this team. During the semi-final match against New Zealand in 1985 World Championship in Australia, when asking rate soared beyond limit, Kapil cracked 30 balls fifty to pull the game for his side. Kapil’s career strike in ODI throughout his career was 95, which was incredible during that time when 250 runs in 50 overs used to be winning total. As bowler, it was never easy to score runs on him due to his impeccable bowling accuracy. And undeniably he was outstanding fielder as manifested in the match winning catch he took in 1983 World Cup final to dismiss Viv Richards.
Srikkanth was really unique and he redefined opening batting during the decade of eighties. Srikkanth with score of 38 was India’s highest scorer in 1983 World Cup final. Srikkanth had the capability to decimate any bowling attack at the top of the order. His first Test century at Sydney in 1985-86 was scored at the rate of run a ball. When he quit the game, he had scored more runs and more centuries in ODIs than any other Indian batsman. During eighties, he scored four ODI centuries with a combined strike rate of more than 100. Srikkanth was an outstanding fielder with super reflexes and was capable to roll his arm as well with his low trajectory off break bowling. He was a great crowd puller during the decade of eighties and Srikkanth would really have been a great crowd puller in IPL as well.
If someone can make comeback at the age of 33 and after a gap a seven year; he really has to be a special character. Robin Singh made his international debut in 1989 and was dropped after his first series. He however made an emphatic comeback in 1996 and this time he was there to stay in ODI squad. He was not extraordinary per se in various facets of the game but was so versatile that he overall was a very potent package. Powerful hitter of the ball; had capability to accelerate in death overs and was capable to mould his bating as per situation. He was extremely disciplined in his medium –fast bowling and used to maintain a tight line and length. At the top of it, Robin Singh was electrifying in field and he was outstanding fielder at cover and point. Robin was involved with IPL as coach of Mumbai Indians few years back but he could have been an asset as a player too in IPL.