Kevin Pietersen: Samson and Padikkal sum up the depth in India’s batting
The Betway ambassador reviews the first week of action in the 2022 IPL, with a couple of young Indian stars catching his eye.
Young Indian batters star again
The start of the IPL has once again been notable for the Indian batters.
I’ve written on many occasion about how this competition is the greatest cricket academy in the world. So many stars of the game were born in it and we are seeing some of the best young players come to the fore already this year.
Sanju Samson has been a wonderful player for a little while now. I just love watching him bat.
Rajasthan Royals’ batting line-up looks very interesting this season, with Jos Buttler, Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetmyer also impressing in their win against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Samson’s 55* was one of the knocks of the tournament so far, though.
We know how competitive the fight for places in India’s batting line-up is. You’ve already got established names like KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, and then there are a glut of younger guys all competing for the other spots.
Ishan Kishan has also started this competition brilliantly, while Mayank Agarwal, Suryakumar Yadav, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer are all in the picture, too.
It reminds me of the Australian team of the late nineties and early 2000s, when Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and the Waugh brothers were on the scene. Mike Hussey was one of the best first-class batters around and couldn’t get a game.
Indian cricket looks in a similarly healthy spot now.
Chasing teams feel no pressure
The chasing team have been much more likely to win during the first week of the competition, with five of six teams batting second and going on to win at the time of writing.
The dew factor is big in India at this time of year. The wet ball doesn’t help bowlers.
Even more than that, though, chasing teams just don’t believe anything is impossible anymore. If the required run rate gets up to 15 or 16, there is no panic. A couple of sixes and things are under control.
RCB seemed to have dug themselves into a hole against KKR on Wednesday, but one six from Dinesh Karthik just ended the game. Simple as that.
Bowlers are also feeling the pressure because they know that the game is never dead. Look at the way Jasprit Bumrah and the Mumbai Indians lost to Delhi Capitals on Sunday. Brilliant batting from Delhi piled the pressure onto an experienced bowling line-up – and it cracked.
Since Rahul Tewatia produced a miracle for Rajasthan Royals against KXIP in 2020, chasing has felt like a major advantage The Royals needed 86 off 30 balls to chase down 224 and Tewatia hit five sixes in the 18th over to get the job done.
Nothing is impossible at the moment.
Rob Key has a brilliant cricket brain
Away from the IPL, the ECB are attempting to fix the mess that is the England Test side at the moment.
They are looking for a Managing Director to reset English cricket, and I think that Rob Key, who has been linked with the role, would be perfect for it.
Knowing him as I do, particularly from sitting around the commentary box with him, he has a very good cricketing brain and deals with people very well.
He understands situations and I think he would be a very smart operator.
Everybody knows my views on the structure of English cricket and how it needs to change. I believe Rob Key would be willing to make the big decisions and has a clear idea of what cricket should look like in this country.
The structure is what needs to change.
I don’t care who the captain is, I don’t care who the coach is. Nobody would do better than Joe Root or Paul Collingwood with this crop of players.
The reset needs to start at the ECB offices, not on the cricket field.
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