David Warner appeared extremely grateful after what his young Indian batsmen did for Sunrisers Hyderabad against three-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Warner, one-man army for SRH many seasons now, and fans had no reason to harbour hopes, in view of their lowly lower middle-order batting performances in the previous games, of a respectable total against CSK after he and Kane Williamson had got out in quick succession leaving the team reeling at 69/4 in 11 overs.
But then against all odds Priyam Garg (51 not out off 26 balls) and all-rounder Abhishek Sharma (24 off 31) showed maturity beyond their years and helped SRH go past 160 with a 42-ball 77 stand and eventually register a shock seven-run win.
All through their defence, Warner appeared in awe of what his young batsmen had done for the team and at the post-match presentation he spoke of them in glowing terms.
His praise brought to the fore how the young, inexperienced Indian talent is perceived now by foreign players, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that particularly in this IPL the Indian players, stars and non-stars alike, have dwarfed the international bunch hands-down.
Now it’s well and truly the Indian Premier League where seasoned India internationals and inexperienced players picked from all over the country are largely making the difference, stealing the foreign players’ thunder more often than not.
Remember the first few seasons of the IPL, how a team performed depended on the performances of their foreign imports? Yes, India internationals also played their part but the team strategies were mainly built around the foreigners and most breath-taking performances came from them. Remember how Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist orchestrated title wins for Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers. As for the cricketers picked from the BCCI’s domestic leagues... they were never part of the main cast and often meant little to the franchises.
Over the next few years the India internationals started asserting themselves in equal measure, however, the growth of domestic talents turned out a little slower than what the cricket administration and fans would have liked.
Not this edition though. On the evidence of what we have seen so far, the Indian players, whether with little or no international experience, appear towering over their foreign team-mates in terms of valuable, power-packed contributions.
Rahul Tewatia, Shubhman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Chahar, Thangarasu Natarajan, Abdul Samad, Rahul Tripathi, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Varun Chakravarthy, Devdutt Padikkal, Navdeep Saini, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Harshal Patel... the long list goes on and on.
What Tewatia achieved against Sheldon Cottrell, how Saini stopped IPL legend Kieron Pollard in that Super Over, what Tripathi did against Marcus Stoinis on Saturday night... these are huge signs as to where the young Indian players stand right now.
When all is said and done, it would be safe to say that the mantra “Vocal for local” given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ignited the local players in the IPL too.
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