Young left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem's confidence would have soared sky high when he helped his team Delhi Daredevils skittle Harbhajan Singh's Mumbai Indians for 92, so far the lowest score in IPL 5. The kudos he earned from his team-mates, namely the stalwarts Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor, would act like a permanent boost all through his career. It's that kind of a dream debut any youngster hopes for.
Ajinkya Rahane took on even the wily legend Muttiah Muralitharan and scored one of the finest innings of this year's IPL. He created an IPL history when he scored a boundary off each ball of an S Aravind over. With that innings of 103 in 60 balls and good scores throughout, he has shown he is ready to play for India. Earlier, he had narrowly missed a century when he scored 98 against King's XI Punjab.
Siddharth Trivedi took 4 for 25 against Royal Challengers Bangalore who have the destructive Chris Gayle, AB de Villeries and Virat Kohli, all match-winners on a given day. Trivedi's effort won the match for Rajasthan Royals.
I can give any number of instances where a bright-eyed kid stole the thunder from the bigwigs. IPL 5 is made up of such sterling performances. But how does the IPL help youngsters?
Apart from the mind-boggling amount some of these players have earned, being part of a team and sharing dressing rooms with some of the top names in cricket should give them goosebumps. Add to that some of the best coaches, trainers and mentors imparting cricketing skills and tips on fitness. That's what shapes a youngster's attitude and steers him through the career.
Make no mistake about it, it is here that Virat Kohli worked hard amidst Jacques Kallis, Mike Hussey, Mathew Hayden and Shane Warne and graduated to play for India. Probably the present under-19 India skipper Unmukt Chand, who scored a century against Australia and helped his team win the quadrangular tournament last week will be soon part of the IPL. Sky is the limit for such a talent and the IPL is the perfect launching pad.
David Warner was an unknown player before he made his mark in the IPL. Now he is a regular in the Australian Test team and even scored a century against India in his first series. Even Shane Watson's career was going nowhere either due to an indifferent form or a series of injuries. But one good season with the Rajasthan Royals turned everything in his favour. He is currently the vice-captain of Australia.
So it won't be wrong to admit that we will hear more of names like Richard Levi and Steve Smith in the years to come, representing their countries in the limited-overs matches or in Tests.
It was not long before when the BCCI, which was not so enthusiastic about the Twenty20, format hastily put together a team naming Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the captain for the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa. That such a team excelled in a format alien to them and took it like fish to water will remain an enigma forever. India upset all calculations and won the trophy, beating archrivals Pakistan in a nail-biter, which further added to the sweetness of victory. Quite a few unheard of players became heroes overnight.
From Twenty20 to IPL was a run, hop and pole-vault for the BCCI. It put in place the IPL, got the official sanction of ICC and made the ICL defunct. That cricket needed something like the football leagues was known but nobody had shown the initiative to put such an idea into practice. It was a delight to watch the legends like Shane Warne, Jacques Kallis, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting oppose their own team-mates and play alongside some of the opponents that they have played against all their cricketing life.
The format, the excitement, the city-hopping for a month ensured that the IPL was a runaway success. The advertisers are laughing all the way to the banks and are still parked there. Cricketers from all the countries, without any exception, are here to play in the IPL. Australian Captain Michael Clarke, who had stayed away so far, will join Pune Warriors India after the Test series against West Indies.
And how does the IPL help Indian cricket? Those who use the opportunity will inculcate the training methods of some of the best players, sharpen their skills under international coaches and develop an attitude that will guide them like a lodestar in their careers.