The upcoming season of the Indian Premier League has more at stake than any of the previous editions. It can be well defining for players who aim to make the difference in England at the World Cup a fortnight after the tournament comes to a close.
The razzmatazz of the IPL has lured cricketers into the lucrative shortest format of the sport and the 12th edition could act as a catalyst to nations trying to find the perfect blend for the stellar ICC show slated to begin in England on May 30.
Managing workload has become the key talking pointing in the run-up to the tournament and calls for keeping players injury free have become imminent.
Among many popular opinions, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has, nevertheless, urged players to make full use of the tournament. He said the onus is on them to manage their body.
Addressing a press conference in the Capital on Tuesday, Ganguly, who has joined Delhi Capitals as Cricket Advisor, felt that skipping matches is not the answer to keeping players in prime shape for the World Cup.
“I have always said there is limited time to play this sport. Getting opportunities at the international level, at the IPL level, this will never come back, so find a way to get rest, find a way to stay fresh and keep playing. Injury can happen anywhere. It can happen playing for India also.
“Not playing is not the solution, even our generation played a lot of cricket. Yes, IPL was not there as it came towards the end of our career but, cricket-wise, it was same,” he said.
“I keep saying that before you realise, you will see 10-12 years have just flown away. Just make the most of it and play every possible cricket match you can,” added the former Indian captain.
Sitting besides Ganguly was Ricky Ponting. The former Australian skipper had a slightly different say on the matter.
When asked about workload management for the World Cup-bound players, Ponting said: “I think it’s a tough question to answer. A World Cup is a big deal for players and I can say from a Board’s point of view that they want to put forward their best team possible in England. We’ll see how it’s managed. The Australian players will arrive late (at the IPL) and leave early – I think the South Africans will leave early too. They are doing whatever they can to look after their players and I’m sure at some stage, there will be some kind of restriction on the Indian bowlers at the back end of this tournament.”
While both India and Australia remain among favourites to lift the trophy, in Ganguly’s opinion, Virat Kohli has the best squad in the tournament.
Boasting of an experienced line-up, Ganguly said: “We have Shikhar (Dhawan), Rohit (Sharma) and Kohli as the top three. Where else would you find such explosive opening batsmen in the top-order? I know there are talks about the No. 4 position in the team. Rishabh Pant can play there and so can Ambati Rayudu. But as far as I know, Kohli has already figured out his batsmen. He already knows whom to play at that position. The rest will take care of itself.”
In regards to Delhi’s IPL campaign, Ponting and Ganguly in unison said the team has the right balance. Along with a strong Indian presence at the top order, foreign all-rounders will be their winning formula.
West Indian batsman Sherfane Rutherford will be the surprise element, according to the duo.