Introduction The 2017 Indian Premier League T20 would be the 10th season which is going to start on 5th April. We had never thought that T20 format would be such a big hit in India or that it would continue a decade and more. No doubt that this format has changed the face of world cricket. Earlier, with the long boundary line in 50-50 format or test format, we had to wait for some particular player who could hit sixes. However, the scene has changed now, the boundary has become smaller, rules are more favouring batsman and we don't need to wait for any particular batsman to see sixes. Every batsman looks like a predator, anyone can become a hero in just one match, and anyone can be a match winner in the T20 format.
Thinking this in mind, I was reminded of some of our 80s Indian cricketers who, had they played IPL, could have done wonders. They would have been loved by today's crowd with their orthodox playing, with their own style of hitting and their magical bowling. It is a pleasure to me to bring out such players from my era to adjust with current generations T20 games. I have no doubt that they would have provided neck & neck competition with today's young players. I have selected 5 players from the 80s who could fit in any kind of cricket with the kind of record they carry along with them. So, let's find out who could be our IPL heroes from past generations of cricketers.
Kapil Dev Isn't the name enough! Obviously for those who could not see his playing would find it difficult to understand what kind of magical player he was. However, for those lucky cricket lovers who have seen him playing would not have even little doubt about him. Undoubtedly, Kapil was one of the four greatest all-rounders during 80s along with Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee.
IPL might have changed the playing of cricket overall but I have no hesitation to say that had Kapil played IPL, the face of IPL would have changed. Time and again, former players like Gavaskar or Ganguly, present cricketers like Dhoni or Virat, everyone have talked about Kapil Dev the best who could have big hit in the IPL. His records says that he could single handedly win the match with both bat and ball. Who will forget his 1983 world cup innings of 175 not out against Zimbabwe. He came into bat at 17/5 when all the greats were warming their bench in the dressing room and went in to making the highest score of the world cup then (175) with the Indian total of 266 at the end of the innings. Who will forget the 1990 test match against England when India needed 24 runs to save the follow-on and the number 11 batsman Hirwani was at other end with Kapil Dev. Seeing the situation Kapil assaulted spinner Eddie Hemmings for 4 successive sixes in an over to save the follow-on. His famous Natraj shot would create a thrill to today's generation. His classical jump at the wicket before delivering the ball would bring the magic in crowds mind. With T20 being a small ground he could be able to hit sixes around the ground. He could be the economical bowler with the ball and dangerous batsman with the bat. This is why whenever Gavaskar was captain of the Indian team, he had used Kapil Dev very cleverly whether in batting or bowling and won many matches for India. In recent cricketers we might have seen Sehwag, Dhoni, Yuvraj and wonder how they hit the ball so hard but Kapil had done this long ago with his aggressive nature of batting with the strike rate of 93 plus in ODI.
Krishnamachari Srikant Known as Kris Srikant in cricketing circles long before Sehwag there we had him as an explosive opener who could spoil the opposition's game plan in a matter of a few overs. His batting style was different from others but full of entertainment. He was indeed a crowed pulling player who didn't care if the ball is the first ball of the game or last, if it needed to hit out of the ground, he would do that too.
When we think of the great Sunil Gavaskar, we think of an image of a pure classical player who played with the merit of the ball but Srikant was just his opposite. For him once one of the great cricket captains Imran Khan had said, "You can't keep fielders for Srikant". He was the player gifted with hand-eye coordination and some exceptionally quick reflections. Who will forget his 1983 world cup final's quick 38 runs innings against some of the very dangerous fast bowling attack. He was occasionally a spin bowler too who delivered some magical spells, took important wicket and won matches for India. He was the first Indian cricketer who scored 50 runs and took 5 wickets in a match. He took 5 wickets twice in ODI format.
With the batting strike rate of 71 plus in ODI, he can be the perfect player in T20 format who could fully entertain the crowd in the IPL.
Mohammad Azharuddin Today whatever people may think about him, no doubt he was the prime force in Indian cricket for as long as 15 years in his career. Not me, but his overall record says that he was one of the great cricketers India has produced. His classical wristy strokes on the leg side had won many matches for India and that of Indians' hearts. He was an aggressive batsman with both on and off-sides of stroke playing & knew exactly where to place the ball on the fielder's gap. He was very quick in the running between the wicket and one of the best fielders in Indian cricket history with 156 catches in the ODI. Who will forget his fastest ODI century then against New-Zealand in just 63 balls? Later the record was broken by Sehwag with 60 balls and now it holds by Virat Kohli in 52 balls.
With the strike rate of 74 plus in the ODI, Mohammad Azharuddin could be a great catch for T20 cricket in IPL. He was such a player who could bring the crowd to its feet with both his batting and quick fielding. Today's crowd would have loved to see his electrifying fielding in this fastest cricket format.
Navjot Singh Sidhu Not many had believed that he would come back so different and so powerful after his pathetic debut in 1983 against West Indies. He did it so witha bang when making a debut in 1987 world cup with 4 consecutive half centuries with hitting long sixes in all over the stadium. Once called a "strokeless wonder" he became "Sixer Sidhu" later.
He was both defensive and attacking in test matches but in ODI he formed his own attacking image. He loved hitting the ball in initial overs which made him an explosive opener in the 80s. In fact it was he who first started assaulting Shane Warne (the great Leg Spinner) before Sachin Tendulkar. For the spinners, he was a vulture who could wait and attack. With the Strike rate of more than 69, he could have really attracted and entertained the crowd with his ability to hit long sixes in T20 format in IPL. Indeed, he was full of an entertainer.
Ravi Shastri Shastri debuted his test career as a spin bowler but went on to becoming an all-rounder. Initially, he batted in the lower order but after transforming as a batsman he went on to become an opener and middle order batsman.
One may be wondering how I could select Ravi Shastri for the shortest version of cricket, namely T20, when he was called a defensive batsman throughout his career. The reason why I personally feel that he could be a good entertainer and crowed puller was the way he performed in 1985 "World Championship of Cricket" in Australia with both bat and bowl and become the "Champion of Champions" (Player of the series). This was the tournament where he won the famous "Audi" car as a prize gift. His ODI record may not create a big impression of a destructive batsman of the type we need in T20 format. However, his ability to change his gear during a match and hit big sixes according to the situation can make him one of the smart cricketers. Who will forget that Ranji match where he hit six sixes in the one over of Tilak Raj. As an all-rounder and with the batting strike rate of more than 61 in ODI, he can easily make his entry into any IPL team.
Conclusion The above mentioned players were star performers during their time. Each one have won many matches for India with their mind blowing performances. Just imagine if the grounds were small during their time, how much more runs they would have added into their records. The crowd would have definitely enjoyed so much if they had played for IPL. Indeed, they were no less than today's Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag and Kohli.
Jeets is a natural born writer who tries to translate his thoughts into words with utmost clarity. He is a firm believer of 'know what you're talking' and thus shares his knowledge and adds inputs only on those subjects in which he is confident about. He has a strong hand in the field of Music and musical instruments from past 19 years and devoted his life to Music.
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This excellent article from Mr.Jeets has taken me to the era when I used to follow domestic cricket and international cricket very very closely. Mr. Jeets has mentioned Kapil Dev (international career: 78-93), K. Srikkanth (81-92), Azharuddin (85-2000), N.S. Sidhu (83-99) and Ravi Shastri (80-92). No doubt, all of them were very good players. However, Azharuddin and Sidhu played most of their matches in 1990s. So, they should be kept out of the list of players of 1980s. However, if they would play in the IPL, IPL would be more colourful. There is not an iota of doubt in it.
In this list, I would add the names of three all-rounders of 1980s. Middle-aged people like me can easily remember that these three all-rounders, although not considered great, played a significant role in India's victory in World Cup 1983. These are: Mohinder Amarnath, Rojer Binny and Madanlal Sharma. All three used to bowl medium pace/swing and could hit the ball brilliantly as batsmen.
Considering the format of T-20, these three players would be extremely successful in IPL and other T-20 matches.
Concluding my response, I thank Mr. Jeets for this beautiful article on cricket which has taken me down the memory lane. Expecting more and more articles from this talented author.
Partha, your reply brought smile on me. It was a time when we friends used to spent time on cricket ground, I myself is a die-hard fan of Kapil Dev and tried to copy his action while bowling.
Coming to your point, those cricketers you have mentioned were stars in their field. However, I selected these cricketers because of their strike rate. Since strike rate is what is most important in IPL, where you have little time but have to score more runs.
I saw your reply even when this article was not reviewed but thought to reply you only after it get approval. Thank you for your compliments, it will only encourage me to write more such articles in these subjects.
I think we should also not forget Sandip Patil. He was one swashbuckling player of those times who used to score runs at will. During the world cup in England in 1983 he played a very effective role along with the other cricketing greats in ensuring the trophy for India. Just like Srikanth and Kapil Dev, he had the talent to score at a very fast rate, showering the cricket field with boundaries and sixes. A good entertainer, his great personality and good looks would have charmed the audience had he been playing the IPLs today.
Just like his other articles which are mostly on music and movies this one on sports was an entertaining one. Hope the author comes up with more such entertaining and informative write-ups.
I was stuck in-between choosing Ravi Shastri and Sandip Patil, wondering whom to fit in my list. Indeed, Sandip Patil was an entertainer and a player who always wanted to score runs in a faster mode. However, I have selected Shastri because Sandip Patil has not played as many matches as Shastri has. Of course, Sandip's strike rate was awesome - 82 plus, in 45 ODIs. This is the only reason I have ignored him. But there will be some more articles on cricket I am going to write in which I will surely talk about his dashing playing style.
Thank you for your valuable response.
This is quite a unique conception of clubbing together Indian cricket stalwarts of a particular era and placing them in today's IPL format. Thinking along the same lines but in terms of cricketers from across the globe of different eras, I was imagining the following three playing in IPL: