Top bowlers use IPL as comeback platform

An action-packed 2009 IPL has done more than provide entertainment for fans, it has also reminded them of star bowlers missing from the international arena

updated: May 16, 2009 09:06 IST
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An action-packed 2009 Indian Premier League has done more than provide entertainment for cricket fans, it has also reminded them of star bowlers missing from the international arena.

The best case in point is Indian left-arm seamer Rudra-Pratap Singh, who has taken a back seat over the past 12 months at international level as Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan established arguably the world's best new-ball pairing.

However, given the opportunity to showcase his talents in the Twenty20 format, Singh has sparkled for the Deccan Chargers, taking 16 wickets to don the purple cap as the League's joint leading wicket-taker.

His contribution has made all the difference for the Hyderabad franchise, who have rebounded from finishing last in the inaugural season to become near certainties for the semi-finals next weekend.

It's been quite a turnaround, and Singh's personal success has been rewarded with a place in the India squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England next month.

With time on his side, the 23-year-old will hope to force his way back into India's Test plans, but appreciates competition is stiff.

"You need luck. I was not in the team for the New Zealand series. Out of a population of 100 million, only 15 make it to the team," he told the Times of India.

Another fast bowler who has forged his way back into the cricket community's consciousness is Lasith Malinga, laid low for more than a year by a knee injury.

The Sri Lankan has used the IPL as a comeback platform to good effect, equalling Singh's wicket tally by claiming his 16th wicket for Mumbai Indians on Thursday against defending champions Rajasthan Royals.

Malinga has also been one of the Twenty20 extravaganza's stingiest bowlers, conceding runs at a economy rate of a shade over six per over to earn himself a place in Sri Lankan World Twenty20 squad.

The 25-year-old's ability to bowl yorker after yorker coupled with the awkward angle created by his slinging action has troubled the tournament's best batsmen, leading some to claim that the right-armer is the most effective Twenty20 bowler.

"If you ask me to pick one bowler in my team who can make life miserable for batsmen in T20 cricket, it's surely Lasith," former South African fast bowler Fanie de Villiers said.

"When the ball doesn't come right from the top, but zooms in from a different angle, every batsman struggles to pick it.

"Malinga has that sort of an action and if he doesn't lose his pace and variation, he will surely be one of the best in the world."

While Singh and Malinga have merely reminded fans of their status as top cricketers, the IPL has also established lesser-known bowlers such as South African Yusuf Abdulla.

Before his selection for two Twenty20 internationals against Australia last month few had heard of the left-armer, but 14 scalps for Kings XI Punjab has catapulted him to stardom and ensured a place in the Proteas World Twenty20 squad.

"It's a big achievement for me and I can only think the selectors were looking at me in the IPL because I have not played much international cricket," the 26-year-old said.