IPL has proved to be a good launching pad for young Indian players
The Indian Premier League has proved to be a good launching pad for young Indian players to graduate to the national team on the back of good performances in the Twenty20 tournament.
Players like Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Sharma and Umesh Yadav first made headlines in the IPL before they were fast tracked into the Indian team.
This year, too, players are trying to grab the attention of the national selectors with a consistent showing in the fifth edition of the tournament.
Many, like Ajinkya Rahane, have already made a mark. The Rajasthan Royals opener set the tournament alight with some superb batting, including a swashbuckling century against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Munaf Patel has also made a strong case for a comeback to the Indian team with strong performances with the ball for Mumbai Indians.
Let's take a look at how the top Indian players have performed thus far in the tournament.
Ajinkya Rahane is the player of the tournament so far. The 23-year-old opener has played a huge role in helping Rajasthan Royals get off to a good start. He is the only batsman to score a century in this fifth edition of the IPL -- 103 from 60 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
He is unlucky not to have two tons to his name already, having missed on one against Kings XI Punjab, dismissed for 98.
He leads the batting chart by a distance, and is the first batsman to cross the 300-run mark in this year's IPL. His tally currently reads 304 runs in six matches at an average of 60.80, at a strike rate of 146.15.
Rahane along with Rahul Dravid has provided Rajasthan with good starts in almost every match, paving the way for their good showing in the tournament so far.
Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Rohit Sharma also looks in splendid touch at the moment. He played one of the innings of the tournament when he hit a 50-ball 73, including a six off the final ball, to help Mumbai Indians edge past Deccan Chargers.
The game looked completely out of Mumbai Indians' reach till Rohit unleashed his magic with the bat.
But old habits die hard. Rohit has been guilty of wasting his starts, like he did against Delhi Daredevils at the Wankhede. His tally currently reads 124 runs from five matches, at an average of 31.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going the Sachin Tendulkar way. After starting out as an explosive batsman, capable of destroying any bowling attack, he has, in recent years, looked to cut down on his strokeplay and anchor the innings from one end.
In IPL 5, thus far, he has been a disaster with the bat, having scored just 89 runs from five matches at an average of 17.80, with a highest score of 41.
Royal Challengers Bangalore's hopes of winning their maiden IPL title this year depend largely on how Virat Kohli performs with the bat.
After a fine showing for Team India recently, it's been a quiet tournament for him with the bat. He has just 109 runs in five matches @21.80, with a solitary half-century to show. And that could be one of the main reasons why Bangalore has not got off to a good start in the tournament.
Gautam Gambhir enjoys a good record in the Twenty20 format, but is struggling to get going in IPL 5.
Apart from a 64 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain has failed to make an impression with the bat. He needs to buck up and improve his aggregate of 113 runs, at an average of 22.60, from five matches.
Virender Sehwag was not included in the Indian team for the Asia Cup last month and he continues to struggle with the bat after his failures in Australia. The dashing opener has always struggled to make an impact in Twenty20 cricket and the trend continues even in IPL 5.
The Delhi Daredevils captain has put up 85 runs in four matches, at an average of 21.25. Still, his team has been able to jump to the top of the IPL standings with three wins in four games.
Sachin Tendulkar gave up Mumbai Indians' captaincy before the start of IPL 5 to concentrate on his batting. But he was dealt a big blow in the first match itself when he injured his finger during his innings of 16, forcing him to miss the next four games because of the same.
With their batting not firing on all cylinders, Mumbai Indians need Tendulkar to make a comeback soon and guide a young batting line-up.
The costliest player in the IPL 5 auction, Ravindra Jadeja is yet to live up to his top billing.
His only notable contribution as an all-rounder for Chennai Super Kings is the 5-16 and 48 runs he scored against Deccan Chargers. Apart from that he has not justified the millions paid to acquire him.
Suresh Raina has been one of the most consistent run-scorers in the IPL since its inaugural season in 2008. But this season he seems to have a hit rough patch after his failures with the bat for India at the international level.
Champions Chennai are struggling, having won just two out of five matches, and need Raina to find his touch at the earliest to maintain their winning run of the last two years.
Raina has scored 112 runs in five matches, at 22.40, with a best of 36.
Manoj Tiwary needs a couple of big knocks to get his confidence back. He was in superb form during the domestic season, but didn't get a single game in the tri-series in Australia or Asia Cup.
After months of rest, Tiwary is suddenly back in the limelight. It is not easy to outdo the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Jacques Kallis and Brendon McCullum, but he is hoping to show his potential with the bat and stake claim for a berth in the Indian playing eleven.
So far, Tiwary has scored 105 runs from five matches, at 21, with a best of 59.
Robin Uthappa is proving to be a vital cog in Pune Warriors' scheme of things this season. He has done quite well as a wicketkeeper and also made useful contributions with the bat, despite being shuffled up and down the order.
In Pune's last match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Uthappa helped his team post a big score with a cracking knock of 69 from 45 balls.
He has 172 runs from five matches, at an average of 34.40 and has taken four catches to go along with three stumpings.
Sourav Ganguly may be trying to defy age by continuing to play and lead Pune Warriors India, but his record throws open his plight. He is still a top notch captain, but his batting prowess has come down big time.
He is struggling for runs this season and has a tally of just 61 runs from five matches, with a highest score of 20.
Rajasthan Royals lost their inspirational captain in Shane Warne last year, but they found an equally capable leader in Rahul Dravid this season.
Despite the absence of big names in their ranks, Rajasthan have made quite an impression in their first five matches.
Dravid's batting prowess hasn't also waned. He is proving to be the perfect foil for Rahane's aggressive batting at the other end, ensuring the team good starts.
He has 152 runs from six matches, at an average of 25.33.
Yusuf Pathan is another high profile player for Kolkata Knight Riders but even he has struggled this season so far. He has scored 23 runs in five innings, while has conceded 61 runs in seven overs with the ball.
His form with the bat has started to worry Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir, who remarked: "He needs to deliver to be very honest. He just can't keep playing these kind of shots. He is an important player for us. Hope he can get back to runs as soon as possible."
The Indian selectors think Munaf Patel is not good enough to make it to the national team, but the pacer is proving them wrong.
He is a big hit for Mumbai Indians with the ball. He took four-wickets in successive matches for a tally of 10 wickets in four outings, at an average of 8.90.
Handed the additional responsibility of leading Mumbai Indians, Harbhajan Singh has so far done a good job as a captain, but he is still struggling as a bowler. The off-spinner has taken just one wicket in five matches, for an average of 101.
However, he has made up the poor show with the ball with a few cameos with the bat lower down the order.
Harbhajan's confidence as a bowler is at an all-time low. He didn't bring himself on to bowl against Delhi Daredevils after Mumbai Indians were bowled out for 92 in Mumbai.
A good performance in the rest of the IPL will not only boost his confidence but also pave the way for a comeback into the Indian team.
Irfan Pathan recently made his comeback to the Indian team after a consistent showing in domestic cricket. He has been entrusted the big responsibility of bowling with the new ball for Delhi Daredevils, but, so far, hasn't looked at his best.
He has just two wickets to show from four matches, but what strikes the most is the economy rate of 7.15.
Umesh Yadav's pace is proving to be too hot for the batsmen in the IPL. The Delhi Daredevils fast bowler has got off to a promising start in the tournament with five wickets in four matches, and an unbelievable economy rate of 4.72.
He first made headlines with good bowling in the fourth edition of the IPL and continues to impress with his express pace and control.
Royal Challengers Bangalore are struggling with their bowling. And one reason for it because their strike bowler, Zaheer Khan, is unable to deliver the goods.
The senior India pacer has taken five wickets in five matches, but given away runs at an economy rate of 7.40.
The biggest worry for Bangalore, though, is Zaheer's fitness. They are hoping he will get through the tournament without any injury woes.
Ashok Dinda displayed superb form in domestic cricket the last few seasons. He was called to the Indian team for the Asia Cup and has carried his confidence into the IPL too.
The Bengal pacer has thrived under Sourav Ganguly's leadership and produced a couple of wonderful spells for Pune Warriors India.
Dinda, certainly, is one of the bowlers of the tournament thus far, with eight wickets from five matches, at an average of 13.370 and an economy rate of 5.94.
Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma is very highly rated, and he is living up to expectations. He gave an account of himself in the IPL last year and continues to thrive in the T20 format.
The leg-spinner started off well till Chris Gayle took him apart in the last match, hitting him for five consecutive sixes. For the record, Sharma has taken six wickets in five matches, at an economy rate of 7.37.
R Vinay Kumar
Royal Challengers Bangalore paid $1 million to buy back R Vinay Kumar to bolster their bowling attack, but, sadly, the local lad is a big disappointment so far.
Vinay, a regular in the Indian ODI and T20 squads over the last year, has struggled to make an impact for Bangalore in IPL 5. The pacer has grabbed just five wickets in five matches. Worse, he has conceded more than nine runs per over!
Mumbai Indians bought left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha from Deccan Chargers in the trading window ahead of IPL 5.
So far, the bowler hasn't lived up to his top billing despite a great start in the tournament-opener against champions Chennai Super Kings. To his credit, though, he has a decent tally of four wickets from five games, and an economy rate of 6.50. The only consolation is that he has done better than his senior team-mate and captain Harbhajan.
R Ashwin has displaced Harbhajan Singh as India's number one spinner in all formats, but he seems to have lost his way in the last few months with Team India.
Even in the IPL, he has found the going tough. The Chennai Super Kings off-spinner, who made his name in the IPL, has struggled to get among the wickets this season. He has taken just one wicket in five matches, at an average of 118 with an economy rate of 6.43.
Piyush Chawla was part of India's World Cup-winning squad last year, but since then has been ignored by the selectors. After a not-too-good showing in Kings XI's first few matches, he struck form and played a leading hand as Kings conquered Kolkata Knight Riders. His claimed figures of three for 18 to enabled Kings win by just two runs.
So far, the young leg-spinner has claimed five wickets in four matches, with an economy rate of 6.28.