Shubman, Padikkal, Mavi - India’s Young Stars Headlining IPL 2020
In the first 2 weeks of IPL 2020, it’s been some of the young Indian faces who have managed to grab the spotlight.
The Indian Premier League has, over the years, thrown up exciting prodigies who have benefited after rubbing shoulders with some of the greats of the game. Youngsters like Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant are products of this league that offers a platform to develop, mature and get nurtured.
This year’s edition has seen some quality cricket on offer. Gravity-defying stunts at the boundaries have been overshadowed by determined run chases. Economical spells on the tough conditions in the UAE have been mastered while rustiness has given way for zealous efforts in all departments. Realising that being on the field is a privilege, the cricketers have managed to make best use of this opportunity and have enthralled us with top-notch cricket in the first ten days.
Youngsters, who might have been worried about the snatched chance if the IPL had been cancelled, have understood this privilege better than most, and have stood out game-after-game.
We look at the Indian youngsters who have impressed in this edition of the IPL thus far.
*All data updated till KKR-RR match on 30 September 2020.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravi Bishnoi
The young leg-spinner has picked up four wickets in this IPL, including a three-wicket haul against RCB. Though he was wicketless in the game against Royals, where over 440 runs were scored, he ended the night as the most economical bowler, giving away just 34 runs in his four overs.
Bishnoi, the highest wicket-taker in the Under-19 World Cup that was held earlier this year, is relentless as he looks to attack the batters with his googlies.
He turns the ball into the left-handers, which should have made him an easy prey as they looked to attack him, but by relying on his wrong ‘uns fearlessly, the cricketer has managed to deceive the southpaws.
His spell against Rishabh Pant of Delhi was particularly impressive, as Bishnoi dismissed him after bowling a series of googlies to him. With Anil Kumble coaching the franchise, the youngster is expected to improve leaps and bounds by the end of the season.
Mumbai Indians: Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar
Mumbai Indians have unearthed some exciting prospects over the seasons. They are known for giving players a solid backing and a platform to showcase their skills consistently, which has won accolades. Bumrah, the Pandya brothers, Suryakumar Yadav and even Rohit Sharma (who was asked to take over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting seven years ago), have been constantly supported by the franchise, and they seem to be putting their trust in Rahul Chahar this season.
Coming into the edition, Mumbai seemed lacking in the spin department, with just Chahar and Krunal Pandya viable spin options in the team. After Lasith Malinga pulled out, the unit replaced him with another fast bowler James Pattinson instead of a spinner, as one thought they might have done, thus putting their unending faith in Chahar.
The young Rajasthan bowler has lived up to the expectations, with 4 wickets at an economy rate of 7.75 and an average of just over 23 after three games. He has been entrusted with bowling in the powerplay overs by skipper Rohit, and though he has been expensive on occasions, he has come back strongly, extracting turn and bounce from the surface.
Ishan Kishan played his first game of IPL 22020 against RCB, and showed his mettle straightaway. Walking in to bat at 16 for 2 in the third over, with Mumbai needing 202 for a win, the youngster adapted his game, conquered the tough conditions and stayed till the end to take his team almost over the line. With Kieron Pollard at the other end, Kishan raised his game and smashed a 58-ball 99, missing out on his hundred while looking to go for the big hit in the last over. Though his knock went in vain, Kishan’s mental tenacity and strength was heavily praised.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Devdutt Padikkal, Washington Sundar
RCB, the perennial under-achievers of the IPL, have started the season with a bang, winning two of the three games thus far. They made sweeping changes to their squad after their bottom-place finish last season, and the results are there to be seen. Despite having big names like Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli in the ranks, it is the young legs from the team who have stood up and left a mark.
Devdutt Padikkal, the highest run-scorer in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year, impressed in his IPL debut, scoring a quickfire 56 to give his team a solid foundation. He has another fifty to his name - 54 against Mumbai - and has already shown that he can be an answer to RCB’s opening woes.
Washington Sundar had a match to remember against Mumbai, conceding just 12 runs in four overs with a wicket. In a match that saw more than 400 runs being scored, the youngster did not overpitch a single ball, bowled 22 balls on the good length and sent down two short balls for no runs. He gave just seven runs in the three overs that he bowled in the powerplay overs, while the other RCB bowlers conceded 28 in the remaining three. He did not go for a single four in his spell, and will have a huge role to play going forward.
*PS - Sunil Gavaskar referred to Yuzvendra Chahal as “young” in the comm box, but unfortunately the spinner does not make the cut for us!
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw
The youngster, who had been termed as a Test specialist after he rose through the ranks and gained prominence as the skipper of the Under-19 World Cup team in 2018, has been one of the surprise performers in the league. He had amassed 245 runs in nine games in 2018, and followed it up with 353 runs last year. Shaw had been banned by the BCCI for eight months after failing a dope test, and though he fared well in domestic cricket after his ban expired, he would have wanted to shine in the toughest T20 league in the world.
In Delhi’s second game of the season against Chennai Super Kings, the 20-year-old displayed his mettle as he anchored his innings to perfection, scoring 64 off 43 balls.
With the track at Dubai not the easiest to bat on, Shaw started off sedately and saw off speeds of 147 kmph by CSK new ball bowler Josh Hazlewood before he took on spinners Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja.
Though he has not fired consistently, Delhi have put their trust on Shaw to open the innings while Ajinkya Rahane has been benched, which highlights how crucial he is to their plans.
Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia
One of the most talented players in the Indian domestic circuit, Sanju Samson started IPL 2020 with a bang, smashing two back-to-back fifties to take his team to the top of the points table. He scored 74 off 32 against CSK with nine huge sixes and followed it up with a 42-ball 85 that had seven sixes. Samson is a treat to watch when on fire - the power that he exudes and the pure timing of the ball is unmatched, and often leaves critics and fans alike in awe. However, Samson’s inconsistencies have often hampered his progress, and it was only the first time in any IPL that he smashed successive fifties. However, there is no denying his abilities, and though he failed against KKR, Rajasthan would hope that he can bounce back stronger.
Rahul Tewatia picked up three wickets against CSK, but makes the list for his power-hitting against Kings XI Punjab. Struggling at 14 off 20 deliveries with the team needing over 15 runs an over, the player backed himself to go for the big hits in a run chase of 224. More than his big-hitting skills, it was his self-belief and his never-say-die attitude that stood out. As Tewatia smashed five sixes off Sheldon Cottrell’s over to take his team close when none had given him a chance we were reminded of the fighting spirit that resides within all of us. In a year of gloom, embracing this spirit and conquering the demons with grit is what will hold us in good stead.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi
Another team that has backed young stars over the years has been Kolkata Knight Riders. They got on board three Under-19 World Cup winning players, Gill, Nagarkoti and Mavi. in the 2018 auctions, and continued to groom them through the last two years. This season, KKR have included temperamentally sound Gill in their leadership core group, and this confidence has been reflected in his batting. He has been giving his team solid starts in the last two games, and while he might not have the best strike rate in the game, he sees off the new ball and holds one end up, which provides a foundation for players like Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan.
However, the two success stories have been the pacers Mavi and Nagarkoti. The former was repeatedly entrusted with bowling in the death in the last two seasons, with skipper Dinesh Karthik signaling the areas to bowl before a delivery. Though Mavi proved to be expensive then, this season, he has come back stronger and has four wickets in three games with an economy rate of just 6.70. The conditions in the UAE do not assist his strengths of swing and bounce, but the youngster has been able to partner Pat Cummins excellently.
Nagarkoti, who had been injured for more than two years, finally made his IPL debut against SRH. Vociferously backed by KKR despite his injuries, the pacer has been one of the strong points for the team this year. He is a gun fielder and has been economical as well, which allows Karthik to rotate his bowlers according to the weaknesses of the rivals. He picked up two wickets against RR for just 13 runs, and is another young star who would hope to end the season just as he has begun it.
*SRH and CSK have exciting players like Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad and Ruturaj Gaikwad, but they are yet to leave a mark.
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