The preparations have begun for yet another engrossing season of the IPL. The twelfth season of the tournament is different in many ways than the previous editions. Firstly, there are clouds of concern over the venue of the tournament. Due to the general elections, the tournament might have to be shifted to another country. And secondly and most importantly, the threat of players burning out due to excessive cricket in the IPL before the start of World Cup 2019.
World Cup 2019 is slated to commence in the last week of May. Traditionally, that is the exact time when IPL is in its climax. Aware of this fact, BCCI is planning to prepone IPL by a couple of weeks to give players some breathing space between the IPL and the World Cup. IPL is a long tournament where each team play around 14 matches and apart from being susceptible to injuries, the players are vulnerable to being mentally drained.
While Australian and England cricket boards are already planning to reduce their players' participation in the IPL this season, even the BCCI should consider taking special care of the World Cup-bound players. Here we look at 5 players who should be protected during IPL 2019.
#5 Rohit Sharma
Even though Rohit Sharma has remained injury free for quite some time now, taking into account his stature as a batsman, he is one player who should be protected during the IPL. Rohit has the ability to annihilate any bowling attack in the world with his destructive batting. Also, he is one of the most experienced players and the vice-captain of the side.
Rohit captains Mumbai Indians, one of the most celebrated teams in the IPL. There is an immense amount of pressure on Rohit to deliver in every IPL and it will be no different this season. However, he should not stretch himself too much and if required, should not shy away from taking a break during the tournament.
#4 Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav has emerged as a key member of the Indian ODI side. Jadhav, who made it to the national side primarily as a batsman, has surprised everyone with his uncanny off-spin bowling. The 33-year-old averages over 40 with the bat and has done well in the limited batting opportunities he has got in the lower-middle order, but it's his lower trajectory part-time off-spin bowling that has helped him cement a place in the ODI team.
However, Jadhav has been injury prone in his short international career. After missing out on a couple of series because of injuries, Jadhav suffered a major setback when he was ruled out of IPL 2018 because of a hamstring injury that he sustained in the opening match of the season. Jadhav missed the tour of England due to that particular injury. He did make a comeback in the Asia Cup but his hamstring problems resurfaced as he struggled in the finals against Bangladesh. Owing to this injury, the Pune lad missed the first half of the series against West Indies.
Virat Kohli likes to have an extra cushion of a sixth bowler in Kedar Jadhav in the ODIs and thus it will be extremely important for team India to look after him at the IPL.
#3 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been one of the most consistent performers for team India in the last couple of years. The pacer, who was always potent with the new ball, has added the skill of bowling at the death to his repertoire. He is extremely crucial to India's chances going into the World Cup. However, of late, he has struggled with injuries. Bhuvneshwar had back problems during IPL 2018 and missed some of the matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He aggravated the back injury during the tour of England and was subsequently ruled out of the Test series.
Even though Bhuvi seems to have gained full fitness now, the Indian team management will be wary of the fact that India does not have too many fast-bowling options apart from Bhuvi and Bumrah and thus Bhuvi's fitness will be of prime importance for the team before the World Cup.
#2 Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli takes his cricket very seriously, be it international cricket or the IPL. While it is good to have the winning attitude all the time, Kohli should be a little pragmatic in this IPL.
The 30-year-old is currently the best batsman in the world and perhaps will be the most watched player in World Cup 2019. Kohli likes to play hard cricket and gives his all on the cricket field which also makes him susceptible to injuries. And even though he is one of the fittest cricketers going around, India can ill afford an injury to Virat Kohli before the World Cup.
Virat Kohli recently stated that Indian fast bowlers should be allowed to miss the IPL to prepare for the World Cup. Kohli should also be mindful of the fact that his fitness is also of huge importance for the Indian team and he should consider taking a break at some point in time in the IPL this season.
#1 Jasprit Bumrah
One player who is responsible for the reincarnation of Indian bowling in the recent past is Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah, who shot to prominence after his stellar performance for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, has become India's go-to bowler in all formats.
He is currently the number one ODI bowler in the World and is in the centre of India's plans for the World Cup. The Indian selectors have done their best to keep Bumrah fresh by resting him time after time. And even though Bumrah has managed to remain fit after the thumb injury that he picked up in Ireland, it is a well-known fact that fast bowlers are more exposed to injuries than the others.
Also, Bumrah is the leader of the Mumbai Indians' bowling-attack and the franchise will want him to play every match during the tournament.
An injury to someone like Bumrah will be a huge setback for team India as Bumrah is irreplaceable in the Indian team right now. Thus, he should be taken special care of in the IPL.