With the DLF Indian Premier League being played just weeks before the Twenty20 World Cup in England, the national selectors will be keenly watching the performance of the 30 probables already short-listed for the June tournament, where India are the defending champions.
Coverage: IPL 2009
India had stunned the world when a young, untested side under its new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had, against the odds, won the inaugural edition of the world tournament. As defending champions, India will thus be under enormous pressure, as will the national selectors to get the team exactly right.
Therein lies the problem -- thus far, with the exception of Rohit Sharma, Praghyan Ojha and Yusuf Pathan, the young stars of the T20 team have failed to shine. Ironically, the best performances have come from those seniors who, considered too old and unfit for a young man's game, had been written out of India's T20 calculations: Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.
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The selectors now have a dilemma to resolve: If the young ones continue to turn in mediocre performances, what then? Do they persist, on the theory that performances in a club-style tournament are not indicative of how they will do when representing the country? Or do they reverse their own youth policy and go back to the tried and tested seniors who seem to be in the form of their lives?
To underline the point, here's a statistical look at how the Indian probables have performed thus far in the IPL, in comparison with the seniors:
Text: Bikash Mohapatra and Harish Kotian | Photographs: Reuters