IPL 2020: Five uncapped Indians who made their mark
The 13th season of the Indian Premier League has been a platform for several uncapped cricketers to shine in the biggest T20 league. The league has always nurtured the upcoming Indian cricketers and produced a bunch of superstars. This time is no exception, and the future of Indian cricket looks quite bright.
Thangarasu Natarajan made his first appearance in the Indian Premier League in the year 2017. But, despite being taken by Kings XI Punjab Natarajan for Rs 3 Crore, he failed to make any impact. Across six games, he had conceded runs at an economy of 9.07.
However, IPL 2020 turned out to be a different venture for the Tamil Nadu lad. Natarajan was transferred in 2018 to Sunrisers Hyderabad but was at the reserve for the next two editions. During this period, he kept on working on his skills and was instrumental in Tamil Nadu’s journey to the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament’s finale. He was the main death bowler of his side, the white-ball cricket for the entire season.
Natarajan went on to replicate his performance in IPL 2020 as well for Sunrisers Hyderabad. With most of the teams having difficulty containing the opponents at the death, Natarajan’s yorkers did the job for Sunrisers Hyderabad most of the time. The left-arm quickl took 16 wickets in 16 matches this season at an economy of 8.02 and delivered the most number of yorkers, which certifies his ability of mastering the death bowling. The opponents were not prepared for this barrage of yorkers, and this surprise element was key for him.
With already being called up for national duty, Natarajan will add some more variations to his armoury.
Five half-centuries, 473 runs in 15 matches at an average of 31.53, and a strike rate above 124 – Devdutt Padikkal has been a revelation for Royal Challengers Bangalore this year.
Virat Kohli’s team yet again faltered at the business end of the league and could not make it to the final match even after an impressive group league journey. However, that did not stop Padikkal from showcasing his true class in the biggest T20 league. His presence brought stability at the RCB top-order and his calculative batting every time displayed maturity. He was roped in by Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of IPL 2019 but was warming the bench in his first season.
Padikkal’s last domestic season performances impressed one and all and eventually helped him enter the playing XI of RCB. The young opening batsman scored 609 runs at an average of 67.66 in Vijay Hazare Trophy, and then he amassed 580 runs with an astonishing strike rate of 175.75 in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In his debut IPL, he ended as the highest run-scorer for the Bangalore team and surpassed Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the run. No wonder this boy is an upcoming star of Indian cricket. With lots of top-order superstars around, a national call-up may not be immediate, but Padikkal should expect few India-A opportunities to make his case stronger.
Varun Chakravarthy became the go-to bowler for Kolkata Knight Riders whenever they needed a wicket in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League. The mystery spinner justified the reputation and registered 17 wickets to his name from 13 IPL 2020 matches with an economy below 7. His best one came against Delhi Capitals when he scalped five wickets for just 20 runs to record one of the tournament’s best spells and the only five-wicket haul during the group stage.
Like some of the other league players, Chakravarthy also made his mark in Tamil Nadu Premier League and was picked up in IPL 2018 auction by Kings XI Punjab for a massive sum of Rs 8.4 Crore. He then played only one match in IPL 2019 but was brutally hit by Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen. That was his only opportunity that season, and once he was released at the end of the season, KKR picked him for Rs 4 Crore ahead of IPL 2020.
Due to the poor form and ineffectiveness of Kuldeep Yadav, KKR needed another Indian spinner to step up, and Chakravarthy fitted perfectly in this role. Chakravarthy started the tournament with the wicket of David Warner and picked up some key wickets at a critical time, including the wicket of MS Dhoni in both the matches against CSK. He was KKR’s go-to bowler whenever they needed a wicket while also curbing the run-rate.
This is the tournament where Chakravarthy made his mark and elevated to the Indian national team to tour Australia. An unfortunate shoulder injury does not allow him to tour, but if he continues to maintain the consistency, another call up will not be far away.
Unlike some of the other players in this article, Suryakumar Yadav is already a long warhorse in the Indian domestic circuit and IPL. Interestingly, his first IPL team was Mumbai Indians in 2012 but he just played one match in the first two seasons.
The first opportunity came in 2014, when Kolkata Knight Riders picked him up, and for the next four years, he was one of the vital players for KKR, managing the finisher’s responsibility and even graduated to the vice-captain of the team.
In 2018, he was picked up by Mumbai Indians who decided to use him at top of the order, which completely changed his IPL career, and started to contribute more as one of the key batsmen. In all of his last three seasons, he maintained an average above 30 and strike rate above 130.
In IPL 2020, he is looking even sharper with his ability to play through the innings and finish the match. This year, he scored four fifties this year, including a masterful unbeaten 79 against Royal Challengers Bangalore to take MI to an unlikely victory. He has already led Mumbai in Ranji Trophy and is part of the leadership group for Mumbai Indians.
With so many young Indian players given an opportunity in limited over formats, it is a mystery why Yadav is still waiting for his first national call. But with his consistency and superior performance, the national team’s door should open soon.
What Rahul Tewatia did for Rajasthan Royals on September 27 was nothing short of a miracle. In the second match of Rajasthan Royals, they had to chase a mammoth 224 to win against Kings XI Punjab. With 100/2 on board, the Royals had Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia in the middle. Tewatia was visibly struggling with seven from 16 balls.
The chances were slim for the Royals with such a sloth batting in the second half of the innings. But with sheer grit, Tewatia smashed Sheldon Cottrell for five sixes in the 18th and eventually scored a 31-ball 53 before getting dismissed in the final ball of the over. He thus equalled Chris Gayle for hitting the most number of sixes in an over of an IPL match. It was his brilliance that helped Rajasthan Royals do the impossible and win the match by four wickets.
That was just the beginning for Rahul Tewatia, saving Rajasthan Royals this season in several matches. His consistency as a saviour for his side, on many occasions, made him a myth, and everyone looked for Tewatia on every side whenever teams were in danger. Thanks to his steel-like nerves and power-hitting ability, Rahul Tewatia finished this IPL with 255 runs and 10 wickets with his leg-spin for Rajasthan Royals. Interestingly, the 27-year-old has been there in the circuit since 2014 without much success. This one season of Indian Premier League has given him everything a cricketer could ask for.