When Mumbai Indians named Jasprit Bumrah in their playing eleven against RCB,the initial response was shudder than surprise, for they had amidst them a string of proven domestic performers such as Dhawal Kulkarni, Abu Nechim and Pawan Suyal.
Four balls into his first over, it seemed the move has grossly backfired for Virat Kohli had smoked him for three boundaries. But with the fifth, he vindicated his inclusion, pinging Kohli in front. Bumrah let out a celebratory cry reminiscent of S Sreesanth in his delirious best. Two balls later, he accounted for Mayank Agarwal and in his last over dismissed Karun Nair.
Bumrah’s narrative isn’t a typical rags-to-riches IPL soap. But still there’s something exotic about his story, sparked by a strange action—open chested and with a non-leading left arm—and a stranger angle from wide off the crease, which explains his devious swing into the batsmen. It was by sheer chance that his coach Kishore Trivedi chanced upon him at the Nirman High School in Ahmedabad in 2007, and It was only as recent as the Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy that he made his T20 debut for Gujarat, a tournament that launch-paded him, as he took 10 wickets in nine matches. He wasn’t to elude the notice of Wright, who persuaded the management to attach him, and in a few days, he was to make a memorable debut.
While his is the most arresting tale, he is not the lone debutant in this year’s IPL. After the first leg of matches, seven others played their first IPL match, and with the exception of overseas recruits Kusal Perera and Ben Laughlin, the rest are literal rookies. For instance, RCB’s Karun Nair, who has played only nine List A matches for Karnataka or Kings XI Punjab’s Manan Vohra, who has only a brace of First Class matches under his belt. Vohra, too, made his opportunity count with a breezy unbeaten 43 of 28 balls. So did Gade Hanuma Vihari with an all-round display against RCB.
This is a slightly surprising scenario, especially at the beginning of the season, when a team is likelier to stick on with their proven bunch. “It shows that franchisees are becoming smarter. Initially, they just went by the reputation of players. Now they are scouting for local talents. One thing is that they are not very expensive and they are so hungry for opportunities that they give more than 100 per cent. As with a good group of foreign players, you need to have a pool of domestic players, not only the big names but also emerging ones,” opined Pune Warriors assistant coach Pravin Amre.
Whatever the reasons be, it provides exposure to the up-and-coming youngsters. “To meet and interact with people such as Mike Hussey, MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina. There’s so much to learn from them and the sheer occasion of an international-scale event, it’s unbelievable,” said CSK’s Baba Aparajith. It’s precisely a spur-on the generation of Amre couldn’t even dream of.