CV Varun, Tewatia, Padikkal: Breakthrough Stars of IPL 2020
Some of these players, who wouldn’t even have been in the plans of the franchises, have emerged as stars in the IPL.
After Chennai Super Kings' poor run in IPL 2020, skipper MS Dhoni was looking for a spark from one of the youngsters. He got to see it and more from opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Gaikwad, after a grand total of five runs in his first three appearances for Chennai Super Kings, which included two ducks, had been all but written off. However, the franchise showed their faith in the 23-year-old and a new IPL star was born. CSK reaped the rewards albeit a bit too late as Gaikwad became the first CSK batsman to score three consecutive half-centuries.
Similarly, not many expected the likes of James Pattinson, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Kartik Tyagi and Isuru Udana to rise to the occasion in the manner in which they have in the ongoing season. Among them all, there have been a few names who have stunned one and all with their consistent performances and have shot to prominence.
Here's a look at five such unexpected stars who made IPL 2020 their breakthrough season:
Return to cricket in 2016 at the age of 25. Help Madurai Panthers to the TNPL title in 2018. Play just one game in IPL 2019. Get picked by Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2020. End up as their highest wicket-taker. And, to top it off, get your maiden India call-up the same year. Who says dreams don't come true!
Varun Chakravarthy's meteoric rise in Indian cricket is a true-blue success story. Although Chakravarthy's rise came out of the blue for the fans, the franchises were always aware of the extraordinary talent of the mystery spinner.
This is precisely why he got picked for INR 8.4 crore in IPL 2019, becoming the highest paid uncapped Indian player. Despite an unimpressive season, Kolkata Knight Riders shelled out INR 4 crore to bag him in IPL 2020. But, would they have expected the Karnataka-born to finish the IPL 2020 group stage with 17 wickets at 20.94, including a 5-wicket haul? Certainly not.
It is not often that a player roped in as a replacement outperforms the original pick by a mile. The least that Chris Woakes deserves from South African pacer Anrich Nortje is a beer. After Woakes pulled out of IPL 2020 to "recharge his batteries", Nortje grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
He formed a deadly combination with fellow South African Kagiso Rabada for Delhi Capitals and hasn't looked back since. The tearaway pacer even delivered a 156.2 kph thunderbolt, which became the fastest delivery in IPL 2020. Nortje has been going strong for DC with 19 wickets from 13 IPL 2020 matches at 21.10.
It was not a surprise that Royal Challengers Bangalore roped in Devdutt Padikkal in the auctions. After acing the 2019-20 Indian domestic season as the top scorer in both the 50-over Vijay Hazare tournament and the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, Padikkal was one of the leading uncapped Indian batters around. RCB identified him to rid them of their overdependence on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
As it turned out, the 20-year-old opener even outscored skipper Kohli in the IPL league stage with 472 runs from 14 matches, including five half-centuries. His strike rate of 126.54 has come under the scanner, but he has been a great find for RCB regardless.
T Natarajan, also referred to as the 'Yorker King' after his superb execution of the yorker in IPL 2020, has been a revelation for Sunrisers Hyderabad this year. Natarajan was bought for just INR 40 lakh and has been brilliant in terms of return on investment.
In the absence of Hyderabad's pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Salem-born left-arm medium pacer has emerged as Hyderabad's second-highest wicket-taker in the season, only behind Rashid Khan.
A few eyebrows were raised when Natarajan was included in SRH's starting XI ahead of Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed and Basil Thampi. But he showed just why through the tournament.
Last but not the least, Rahul Tewatia has been one of the finds of IPL 2020. Tewatia has been a part of the IPL since 2014 and has represented Delhi Capitals and Kings XI Punjab before returning to Rajasthan Royals.
It is only in this season that he finally got a consistent run with the Rajasthan line-up needing an Indian all-rounder who could bowl wrist spin and tonk the ball. They found the perfect match in Rahul Tewatia.
Tewatia was thrown in the deep end, promoted to No 4, with Rajasthan in pursuit of 224 against Kings XI Punjab. Stuck at just nine runs off his first 18 deliveries, Tewatia dished out a turnaround for the ages by blasting five sixes off one over from Sheldon Cottrell and raced to his half-century off just 30 balls, taking Rajasthan Royals to an unlikely victory. By masterminding the highest successful run chase in IPL history, Rahul Tewatia ensured that his name won't be forgotten anytime soon.
More than his exploits with the bat, his impact has been due to the consistency in his bowling. The Haryana all-rounder has picked up 10 wickets from 14 matches. His main job has been to keep the runs dry in the middle overs and he has delivered big time, with a commendable economy rate of just above 7 RPO. Talk about unexpected IPL stars!
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