IPL springboard all set for colts to launch
On September 19, the long wait comes to an end. When the first ball of the Indian Premier League is bowled, in the match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, which flags off the tournament in Abu Dhabi, months of planning and execution will come to fruition.
Amidst the Covid-19 global pandemic, it has been a challenge to get top-flight cricket restarted, and the action in the bio-secure bubble in the United Arab Emirates will be watched keenly around the world.
One of the most significant things of a tournament, such as the IPL, is how it allows young and unknown players a chance to showcase their wares against the best in the world. While it is the established names, Virat Kohlis and Rohit Sharma and Mahendra Singh Dhoni that form the core of the teams, it is the new faces that set the tournament alight.
In every single tournament, a star has always been born, and this edition promises to be no different. Here we take a closer look at 10 players who are set to live a dream and become household names.
Devdutt Padikkal, batsman, Royal Challengers Bangalore
At 20, the left-handed Padikkal is one of the brightest talents in the Indian batting firmament. He finished on top of the charts in the domestic 50-over and Twenty20 tournaments last year, and his runs came at a brisk strike rate. Add to this the fact that he is an attractive batsman to watch, and even in a team full of batting strength, he is going to be an irresistible force.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, batsman, Chennai Super Kings
The 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad was earmarked as one to keep an eye on for the future by none other than Dhoni, who has a proven track record of backing the right players early on. Gaikwad had been a significant force in domestic cricket already, scoring 843 runs from his last 15 domestic limited-overs innings. Gaikwad may have found it hard to be a regular in the playing eleven of the Chennai Super Kings, but the departure of Suresh Raina, who misses the tournament for personal reasons, means that Gaikwad is a shoo in to bat at the top of the order. He can open the innings or come in at No. 3, depending on what the team decides is their best final composition.
Abdul Samad, batsman, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Abdul Samad was spotted by VVS Laxman and groomed as a finisher in limited-overs cricket. His clean hitting against spinners, who miss known to take on and attack successfully, meant that a pathway to the IPL was always likely. In first-class cricket, he strikes at comfortably better than a run-a-ball, and the Sunrisers will be looking to use the 18-year-old in the No. 6 or No. 7 position. The ability to play spin well is expected to be a major factor in the UAE, where pitches are expected to be slow, and this will ensure that Samad is a strong candidate to get a long rope.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, batsman, Rajasthan Royals
Yashasvi Jaiswal has been on the news many times, not least because of his humble origins. When he came from his native Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai to forge a career in cricket, Jaiswal lived in a tent in the maidans, selling street food to make ends meet. But, those days are well and truly behind him. The left-hand batsman was the top scorer in the last Under-19 World Cup, and he will fancy his chances of getting some solid game time at a team that has prided itself at promoting young talent.
Riyan Parag, an allrounder, Rajasthan Royals
In the 2019 season of the IPL, Parag became the youngest batsman to score a half-century in the history of the tournament, at just 17 years of age. But, while he could play a wide range of shots that caught the eye initially, his bowling has proved to be every bit as useful to his team. Parag bowls an assortment of styles, from leg, breaks to googles to off-breaks to carom balls, and even cutters. Parag went to Rajasthan for just his base price of Rs 20 lakh and could prove to be one of the shrewdest investments of this season.
Ravi Bishnoi, legspinner, Kings XI Punjab
The highest wicket-taker in the 2020 Under-19 World Cup, Bishnoi, is fast making a name for himself as a bright young legspinner in the Indian circuit. It is a bonus that he is at Kings XI Punjab, whose head coach is Anil Kumble. It’s no secret that Kumble inspired Bishnoi. And, while the 20-year-old from Rajasthan has the talent, the fact that he also knows when to deploy his weapons, the leg break and the googly, to the maximum effect will make him grow as a bowler. And there is no better exponent of putting pressure on batsmen than Kumble.
Kartik Tyagi, medium-fast bowler, Rajasthan Royals
Any bowler who can swing the ball both ways at pace is bound to get noticed. In Tyagi’s case, he has made a conscious effort to increase his pace and sustain that throughout a spell. Injuries have caused him to struggle a bit since his success at the Under-19 level, but the chance to be a part of the Rajasthan Royals set up, even if he does not feature in every single game the team plays, will ensure he leaves the IPL a better bowler than when he first made his mark.
Shahbaz Ahmed, bowling allrounder, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Shahbaz Ahmed had a strong season for Bengal in which it was his cricketing nous that came to the fore. Contributing to both bat and ball, Shahbaz was able to assess different match situations quickly and then adapt accordingly. He took 35 wickets with his slow-left arm spin, through which he can attack when needed and also play a holding role if that’s what the captain wants. In conditions that are expected to favour spinners in the UAE, he could be a significant player if used well.
R Sai Kishore, left-arm spin, Chennai Super Kings
Sai Kishore is another young player who will benefit from the withdrawal of a senior pro. When Harbhajan Singh ruled himself out of the current IPL season, the left-arm spinner’s stocks rose straight away. Sai Kishore is the kind of bowler who could become a deadly weapon in the hands of Dhoni, who is a master of getting the most out of young spinners. While he does not rely on any mystery balls or fancy deliveries, ai Kishore can vary pace, flight, and trajectory and can bowl with an old ball and new.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti, fast bowler, Kolkata Knight Riders
No young bowler has created as many instant ripples as Kamlesh Nagarkoti, who burst into the limelight with a stellar performance in the Under-19 World Cup. A genuinely quick bowler who has penetration and pace, Nagarkoti was just the kind of youngster who would slot well into the aggressive current Indian set up. However, he has struggled with injuries, and through the process, emerged mentally stronger and as a more mature bowler. His explosive pace — he has been clocked at 150 kmh pretty regularly, make him an ideal shock and awe impact kind of bowler in the shortest formats, and this is how Dinesh Karthik will be hoping to maximise returns on investment.