The 11th edition of the Indian Premier League will kick-off with a high-octane encounter between defending champions Mumbai Indians and two-time champions Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. Wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel, who was roped in by Royals Challengers Bangalore at this year's mega-auction for Rs 1.7 crores, feels that the T20 league will not lose its lustre in the absence of disgraced Australian cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner.
Australian skipper Smith along with his deputy David Warner, both captains of Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively, were banned for a year by Cricket Australia after their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal which rocked the sport. The BCCI followed CA's footsteps and banned the tainted pair from taking part in the cash-rich T20 league.
"It's unfortunate (ball tampering incident). But I feel the IPL is a big brand. It's such a big tournament with a lot of young players and seniors have been around for years. A couple of incidents that has happened outside the IPL should not affect it," Parthiv told reporters on the sidelines of an event here on Thursday.
Smith was also stripped of the Australian captaincy for at least two years. Asked if the treated meted out to him and Warner was too harsh, Parthiv said, "I don't think I'm in a position to speak on what has happened. The ICC and CA have taken decisions."
"A lot has changed from where I was in 2014. (I am) coming with a lot of experience of winning the tournament (with Mumbai Indians)," he said.
"My performance individually has been very good in last few IPLs, also in the domestic tournaments. Not many things will change for me. I've been working hard personally. Hopefully I will help the team to win the tournament," said the 33-year-old who is part of India's five-day setup and played the third Test in South Africa recently.
"It's exciting times for all the wicketkeepers," Parthiv said when quizzed about the options Team India have at present with the likes of Dinesh Karthik also performing well and Wriddhiman Saha around as first-choice red ball cricket stumper.
"Look at the competition around, if one gets injured the other is always ready. There's a line of wicketkeepers in Indian cricket at this point of time.
"It brings the best out of us, and we know it. Whoever is playing is capable enough to do well for India. Whoever is playing has to be on top of their game," Parthiv said, adding competition is always good as it reflects the healthy state of the game in the country.
"It's not easy when you're playing for India. The competition will always be there. As long as the competition is there, Indian cricket is in good shape."
Parthiv, who made his debut as a baby-faced keeper way back in 2002 at Nottingham against England, said keeping won't be easy when the team travels there in the summer.
Meanwhile, bowling all-rounder Pawan Negi, who was picked up using the Right To Match card by RCB for Rs 1 crore, said he is ready to deliver for his team this time as they have kept faith in him.
"I was with team last year. The coach, franchise and captain supported all of us youngsters. If your captain supports you, the pressure eases a bit. I am more excited to play and contribute for them as they kept faith in me," Negi said.
Negi became a household name after he was bagged by Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 8.5 crore. But the 25-year-old's stock fell after that.
(With IANS inputs)