The Indian Premier League (IPL) may not prove to be an ideal platform for India cricketers to stake a claim for a World Cup spot, but for David Warner and Steven Smith — the two Australians returning to top-flight cricket after serving suspension for their involvement in Sandpaper-gate — the tournament will be a big chance to make a case for World Cup selection.
In the immediate aftermath of the ban, Warner and Smith — the designated skippers of Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals respectively — had to miss the 2018 edition.
The Aussie batsmen will start this IPL on a contrasting note.
With Kane Williamson down with back injury, Sunrisers may re-appoint Warner as the captain for the first few games.
Smith, on the other hand, is a doubtful starter for Royals in the initial phase since he still hasn’t fully recovered from an elbow injury he suffered during the Bangladesh Premier League.
Former Australia batsman Dean Jones is keeping a close watch on the duo’s progress.
“I spoke to Smith and Warner. Warner’s come in with some good hundreds. I know it’s club cricket so that doesn’t really mean anything, but a hundred is a hundred.
“It will be interesting to see how he fits in. There is a problem with Kane Williamson, with his back, so how he fits in there, will they (Sunrisers) give captaincy to Warner again… we will have to wait and see. Is Smith in their (Royals’) best team, is a big question,” said Jones, a Star Sports Select Dugout expert.
While Sunrisers will open thier campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata on Sunday, Royals will square up against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur on Monday.
Cricket and election
Former India captain and coach Anil Kumble hoped that cricket will not be overshadowed by the political scenario.
“I am sure cricket will be more entertaining than the elections.
“That’ll certainly be a little bit of a distraction, not really a distraction, that’s something that all of us are looking forward to once in five years. 2014 was similar. 2019, I am sure the cricket will be followed more closely because of the World Cup that is coming up as well,” he said.