We all know that the IPL is all about finding India's next big domestic players, and that it is not at all about money or catching the interest of "fans" who tune in once a year.
I'm not trying to bash the IPL, I can't deny its entertainment value (did they really get Katy Perry? that could have been anyone who is an equally awful singer).
Anyway, for those who are naive enough to think that India's future lies in players who perform only in the IPL, here's a list of under-the-radar domestic Indian players (most of them young, bar one) who, if given the opportunity, should perform.
These are the nine, because that's my favourite number.
1) Kedar Devdhar (Deccan Chargers): This aggressive keeper-batsman was in blazing form, carrying Baroda into the (other) domestic T20 tournament finals, which they won. His chances of playing depend on Sangakarra's unwillingness to keep, but Deccan's lack of quality Indian batsmen may work in his favor. Also, his competitor for the same spot is Parthiv Patel.
2) Mandeep Singh (Kings XI Punjab): After a fantastic to his domestic career, he should fit in easily into the Kings XI (is it an XI of Kings, an XI belonging to a King, or an XI belonging to several Kings? an apostrophe would have helped) as they have a paper-thin squad.
3) Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai Indians): A little less under-the-radar than some of the others, this guy's rapid progress will have been followed keenly by highly optimistic fans and people who have nothing to do (I'm a bit of both). We already know that he's an aggressive player who loves big innings, everything is set up for him to him to succeed. MI, unfortunately, is chock-full (what's a chock?) of proven quality, and I don't see too many opportunities for him. Even in a team that once fielded the likes of Vikrant Yeligati.
4) Sachin Rana (Pune Warriors): No, it's not just because his name is Sachin, though it did help. If a man named Sachin shot me in the eye and stole my wallet, I would still blindly trust him. This man, however, is one of those domestic workhorse all-rounders who perform above average for their states, just not good enough to get selected. Judging by Rajat Bhatia's effectiveness, he could be pretty handy for Pune.
5) Shahbaz Nadeem (Delhi Daredevils): A left-arm spinner for Jharkhand (what's that? Dhoni's state?), he has quietly been picking up wickets, and has an excellent domestic T20 record. Also, he ended up being India's highest Test wicket taker in an International Cricket Captain game I played back in 2008. If that's not an indicator of sure success, I don't know what is.
6) Harshal Patel (Royal Challengers Bangalore): After almost becoming the cliched Gujarati who moves to the US, this medium-pacer had a superb run in the recently concluded domestic season, taking consecutive 8-fors on his way to 23 wickets at a typically miserly average of 11. He may also have to switch teams, chances aren't forthcoming in a packed RCB side.
7) Bhargav Bhatt (Kings XI Punjab): Another young left-arm spinner to watch, and many have been doing so for a while. He did well in the limited chances he got last year, including a four-wicket haul against MI last season. He's still the third spinner in his side after the more senior Piyush Chawla and the more everything Ramesh Powar (and England thinks Samit Patel is unfit).
8) Shami Ahmed (Kolkata Knight Riders): There's practically no information on him, not even a picture on Cricinfo. Why is he here? Oh, only because he 21 wickets in 13 T20 domestic games at an unbelievable average of 10.19 and an economy of just under 5. I want to see a bowler with those kinds of numbers bowl. I want to see what unplayable stuff he dishes out. Make it happen, SRK, and I'll personally perform a free lobotomy on everyone who watched Ra.One.
9) Vikas Mishra (Delhi Daredevils): Another young left-arm spinner (yes, I'm on spin watch), he is not related to Amit Mishra (or as he's known in South India, Amith Mishra). He has 55 first-class wickets in one-and-a-half seasons, which, at best, can be called "none too shabby."
And now, to end with, a gratuitous image that makes no sense.