IPL 2019: 5 mentor-protege battles to watch out for

Anderson Edward

MS Dhoni & Rishabh Pant

IPL 11 was an edition where there was a competition between the best players in the game but IPL 12 seems to be one where mentors and pupils face off in a battle of the ages.

The eleven editions of IPL have made quite a lot of star players. However, with the passage of time, the heroes are getting a bit aged and new heroes are starting to emerge.

With experience comes maturity and with youth comes vigour. March 23, 2019, seems to start a new chapter in the cricketing history when experience and youth face off to showcase a battle like never seen before.

Imagine your famous idol becoming your fiery competitor. That's the scenario for these relatively young players in IPL 12. They will take on whom they consider as their mentors. 

Honourable mention(s): MS Dhoni vs Rishabh Pant; Virat Kohli vs Jasprit Bumrah

The broadcasting team of Indian Premier seems to be aware of the rising young talents in the IPL. Thus, their two promotional videos show young Indian star players challenging the established stalwarts.

Rishabh Pant made quite a challenge to his idol MS Dhoni that his performance against CSK will lead MSD to lose his cool. Of course, Dhoni replied to the challenge in a later video that he will be ready to see what the youngster have in store.

Similarly, Mumbai Indians pacer Jasprit Bumrah sent a message to Virat Kohli that he is coming to take his wicket to claim the name of world's best bowler. However, Virat Kohli with a chuckle replied in a subsequent video that he will be ready for the challenge.

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While the upcoming competition between the two mentor-protege pair seems mouthwatering there are some other similar pair who would compete with the goal of besting each other.

#1 Chris Gayle vs Shimron Hetmeyer

Shimron Hetmyer receiving his ODI cap from Chris Gayle

Royal Challengers Bangalore made a clumsy decision to let go of Chris Gayle while he was still in his prime form. Kings XI Punjab took advantage of this to rope in the Universe Boss ahead of IPL 11. The Southpaw proved his worth for them by notching 368 runs in 11 matches.

Also, Chris Gayle hit a century in IPL 11. This shows that his age is not affecting his performance. The performances of Gayle must have made RCB regret their decision so they picked his young counterpart Shimron Hetmyer in IPL 12 auctions.

Shimron is an individual who idolizes Chris Gayle. He shared a distinctive 103 run-partnership with Chris Gayle against UAE in a World Cup qualifier match. After the match Hetmyer said,

"It was a fantastic feeling for me. I grew up from the tender age of probably five and even younger watching Chris on television and thinking of the day when I could be accompanying him at the crease”

Hetmyer also proved effective against India in the Windies tour of India 2018. He scored 259 runs in 5 ODIs becoming the most run scorer for West Indies in the ODI series. RCB management would want this youngster to recreate the magic of Chris Gayle in Bengaluru.

#2 Ab de Villiers vs Kagiso Rabada

Ab de Villiers passing the ball to Kagiso Rabada

Kagiso Rabada had the opportunity of playing with Ab de Villiers while the legend was in the final stage of his international career. No wonder his senior would have given him a lot of useful advice.

In one instance, when Rabada's wild wicket celebration against Steve Smith nearly got him a two-match ban, it was de Villiers who came out with a piece of advice for the youngster.

"I think it's up to some of our senior guys to just help him," de Villiers said after the match. "It's important to some of the players to get around him before he close to a batter to tell him 'you know what? I just got you out'.

Upon receiving de Villiers retirement news Rabada posted on his twitter a farewell message stating that the South African icon is the GOAT - Greatest Of All Time.

Kagiso Rabada will be playing for Delhi Capitals with the hope of getting the opportunity to bowl to the greatest of all time. It is yet to be seen if Rabada will snatch the wicket of de Villiers or Mr. 360 will send his balls out of the ground.

#3 Steve Smith vs Washinton Sundar

Steve Smith & Washington Sundar

It is unclear at the moment on how many games Steve Smith would be playing in IPL 12. The injury he sustained in Bangladesh Premier League and his World Cup commitments may not allow him to play many matches. However, he is a class batsman whose services would be crucial for the Rajasthan Royals even if they come in a few matches.

His Pune Supergiants protege, however, has got certain things to prove against him. Washington Sundar owes a lot to Smith for guiding him when he was a rookie at RPS.

"He (Steve Smith) has shown a lot of belief in me. He threw the ball to me in the first six overs a lot of times. I’m very lucky and thankful to him and the management. Getting an opportunity at such a big stage at this level I really owe a lot to the management and the captain.”

Washington Sundar will be playing under Virat Kohli for RCB in IPL 12. The wicket of a world-class batsman like Steve Smith would be beneficial for his career. Thus, Sundar would give his best against Smith to earn a name for himself.

#4 Shane Watson vs Marcus Stoinis

Shane Watson and Marcus Stoinis

After a dismal IPL 10, Shane Watson proved in the succeeding season that his chapter was far from over. The Aussie opener knocked 117 runs from 57 balls with 11 fours and 8 sixes at a strike rate of 205.26 in the finals to hand his team the victory. Overall, Watson scored 555 runs in 15 games.

The breathtaking all-rounder has a challenge this year from his Australian photocopy Marcus Stoinis. Stoinis is a batting all-rounder identical to Watson. In fact, Watson is more of a mentor to him. Stoinis once said in an interview, "...he’s (Shane Watson) mentored me for a couple of years now. His hunger to keep getting better at the end of his career, it’s no coincidence why he’s so good,”

The Mentor-Protege pair will face each other right in the series opener. RCB bought Stoinis from KXIP in exchange of Mandeep Singh. Taking into account that RCB gave Watson the worst stint in his career and the magnitude of CSK-RCB rivalry, this face-off promises to set IPL on fire.

#5 Yuvraj Singh vs Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin & Yuvraj Singh

Ravichandran Ashwin was roped in by Kings XI Punjab in IPL 11 auctions. The team also went for Yuvraj Singh. While their former captain Yuvi looked likely to become the captain, Kings XI management chose the newcomer Ashwin.

As a result, Ash looked forward to making the most of his captaincy with some guidance from his mentor Yuvraj Singh. He said in the jersey launch function ahead of IPL 11,

“Both Viru paji and Yuvi have been my captains at different stages of my career. Yuvraj Singh was my captain in the first Challenger series that I played. He played a big role in whoever I am today. Learning from them and taking advice is something I will never be averse to,”

However, Yuvraj Singh did not succeed in rendering his best to the team. As a result, Ashwin was left with a huge burden as Yuvi was benched for most matches.

After the tournament, Yuvraj Singh was released by the management. The Southpaw was picked by Mumbai Indians ahead of IPL 12. Ravichandran Ashwin will now play against his former teammate whom he looked up for guidance.

Have any other IPL 12 battle like this on mind? Let us know in your comments below.