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Indian team skipper Rohit Sharma talks about his time as skipper of Mumbai Indians and the future of Indian cricket. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Indian Premier League has been the breeding ground for Indian cricket since its inception in 2008 and the richest franchise league has unearthed some of the biggest talents that has been keeping the Men in Blue aloft in world cricket. The high quality contests, constant innovation and the star value have been increasing the league’s popularity year on year, bringing more fans to the high-tech stadia and the global viewership numbers.

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However, the league has moved away from its core ideology of producing new stars to Indian cricket to a result-oriented approach in recent times. Both the franchises and the league governing body are guilty of it. The Indian coaches have been replaced by foreign professionals and barring a few, most of the teams currently are guided by entire coaching staff made up of international stars, which has taken away the vital link between the Indian players and their progression to the next stage.

Dearth in spin department

There is a dearth of Indian spinners with all teams banking on pacers to deliver slow bouncers and back of the length deliveries to arrest the run flow. The spinners were able to control the middle overs, sometimes even in the powerplay. One of the reasons for numerous high scores in the last couple of seasons is the lack of quality spin bowlers in several teams. There is not a single young Indian spinner who is making a big impact in the last few IPL seasons, which could affect the future of the Indian cricket as the Men in Blue rely heavily on the tweakers in the home series.

Veteran spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who is leading the bowling chart with 13 wickets, West Indian all-rounder Sunil Narine and Afghanistan magician Rashid Khan are only the three spinners in the top 15.

In addition, the Impact Player rule, introduced last season, is not allowing the development of Indian players into match-winning all-rounders.

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Shivam Dube has been impressive with the bat, but not getting a chance to bowl as he has been substituted by another impact player. Image Credit: AFP

Indian captain Rohit Sharma, speaking on Club Prairie Fire podcast, which is co-hosted by Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan, spoke on a variety of topics that included his captaincy at Mumbai Indians over the years. But the 36-year-old was critical of the Impact Player rule, which has allowed the teams to substitute a player during the course of the match — effectively making it a 12-member contest than playing with the XI. Rohit Sharma feels the move has been detrimental for the growth of the all-rounders.

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“I generally feel that it is going to hold back [development of all-rounders] because eventually cricket is played by 11 players, not 12 players. I’m not a big fan of impact player. You are taking out so much from the game just to make it little entertainment for the people around. But if you look [at] genuinely just cricketing aspect of it …. I can give you so many examples — guys like Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube are not getting to bowl, which for us [India team] is not a good thing.”

With the World Cup just a month away, India are desperately short of genuine all-rounders. Ravindra Jadeja has been in form, while Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel are the other notable contenders. It is needless to say that more the all-rounders the better the chances of winning the trophy. This season has seen a couple of players emerging as all-rounders but players like Dube has been substituted and Chennai Super Kings have used him primarily as a batter this season. The left-hander has been having an impressive year with the bat and is expected to be in the team for the T20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and USA.

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Washington Sundar, who has played 43 Twenty20 internationals for India, is not a regular for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Good domestic form

Dube has two half-centuries in this IPL and is ninth in the race for Orange Cap with 242 runs in six innings with two not outs. However, he is yet to bowl a single over for the five-time champions Chennai Super Kings. The Mumbai all-rounder, who also had a good domestic form, has been among the wickets this season apart from sending down some overs against Afghanistan in the three-match Twenty20 series against Afghanistan.

While Sundar, who has played 43 Twenty20 internationals for India, has played just one game this season for Sunrisers Hyderabad, while another all-rounder Rahul Tewatia has not been bowling his leg-spinners in recent times. While the batters are not bowling on one hand, lack of batting opportunity for a bowler is also stopping him from developing into a bowling all-rounder, where could come in handy with a cameo at crucial times.

“I don’t know what you can do about it,” Rohit Sharma said. “Because there’s obviously 12 players for you to select from and whoever that impact player is, you can see how the game is going and change it later depending on what you need, what pitch is behaving. If you bat well, if you don’t lose wickets, you can add another bowler so it gives you an option of having six or seven bowlers. You don’t need that extra batter because a lot of the teams actually upfront are batting well, and then you hardly see No 7 or 8 coming to bat.”

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Rohit Sharma has been replaced as Mumbai Indians skipper by Hardik Pandya in this season. Image Credit: AFP

'I know what works in IPL'

Rohit Sharma, who led Mumbai Indians to five titles between 2013 and 2023, has been replaced by Pandya as a captain this year, which has not gone well with the fans. “I know what works and what you need to do,” the former skipper said while acknowledging that the MIPaltans always were slow starters.

“All these years, this has been the story of Mumbai Indians, where we start slow and then things start to change. The captain for the last 10 years was stagnant. The coaches have changed but the captain has been the same. I actually went in with some sort of thought process. The new people who come in (to the squad), I wanted to get them to (follow) my thought process because I know how IPL works and what it takes to be a successful team. It takes time to take everyone on board and make them do something which they are not used to,” he added.

Mumbai Indians, who finished last in 2021 under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, are currently at the ninth spot with two points from six games. The five-time champions are meeting Punjab Kings at Mullanpur on Thursday.