The Indian Premier League is right around the corner, and it will be the first time in almost six months that fans will be able to watch Indian cricketers in action.
With most tours and tournaments cancelled in the past few months due to the pandemic, the T20 league – which was scheduled to start on 29 March – is now set to kick-off on 19 September in UAE.
While viewers will be eager to watch their favourite stars once again, this season as all others, will also give the young and upcoming cricketers an opportunity to make their mark.
Former Indian cricketers Irfan Pathan and Wasim Jaffer have already made their picks among the youngsters to watch this season.
Here’s a look at some of those names that could impress the Indian selectors with their performances in this IPL.
1. Yashasvi Jaiswal
He’s 18-years-old and has already grabbed attention with his performances in Under-19 and domestic cricket. Mumbai batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal was the leading run-scorer and Man of the Tournament at the U-19 World Cup this year.
In 13 List-A matches, the left-hander has scored three centuries and three half-centuries including a record-breaking double century in the Vijay Hazare trophy in October last year. Snared by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 2.4 crore at the auction, Jaiswal could become a regular feature in their batting line-up this season.
2. Ravi Bishnoi
Another young star who impressed with his performance in the U-19 World Cup was right-arm leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi. The 20-year-old gave batsmen from around the world a tough time, finishing as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps in six matches at an economy rate of just 3.48.
Kings XI Punjab’s Rs 2 crore pick, Bishnoi is the only wrist-spinner in the squad along with M Ashwin. Known for his googly, the IPL rookie has been working under his idol Anil Kumble to perfect his flipper.
3. R Sai Kishore
One to watch out from among the ‘Dad’s Army’ aka Chennai Super Kings will be left-arm spinner Sai Kishore. The 23-year-old was popularly known for his Powerplay bowling during the Tamil Nadu Premier League.
The six-foot-three-inch bowler was the highest wicket-taker in the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with 20 scalps in 12 matches at an economy rate of 4.63, and has taken 48 wickets in 17 first-class games so far.
With Harbhajan Singh announcing his absence from the IPL this year, CSK are now more likely to field Sai Kishore than before.
4. Abdul Samad
The fact that he has been hand-picked by VVS Laxman for Sunrisers Hyderabad, and is among his J&K team mentor Irfan Pathan’s youngsters to watch this season, is a testament to 18-year-old Abdul Samad’s talent.
Not only is he known to be a finisher and good player of spin, the right-handed batsman is also a big-hitter – qualities perfect for the shortest format specially in UAE where pitches are expected to be spin-friendly.
The Jammu boy hit a massive 36 sixes in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy – the most by any batsman that season – and finished with a total of 592 runs in 10 matches including three centuries and two half-centuries. He has also scored 240 runs in 11 domestic T20 games at a strike rate of 136.36, with a highest score of 76*.
5. Devdutt Padikkal
Talking about star performers in domestic cricket, top-order batsman Devdutt Padikkal was among the biggest names last season – finishing as the highest run-getter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy.
In Karnataka’s winning campaign, the 20-year-old left-hander scored a massive 580 runs in 12 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy games at a strike rate of 175.75 including an unbeaten century and five 50-plus scores.
He will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers at Royal Challengers Bangalore, and may even be in the running for a spot in the Indian T20 squad if he continues with this form.
6. Kartik Tyagi
Among the younger lot of pacers, Rajasthan Royals’ Rs 1.30 crore pick Kartik Tyagi has been one of the most spoken-about in recent times. The UP-boy made his first-class debut at just 17 after being spotted by the team captain Suresh Raina.
While he hasn’t played a lot of domestic cricket with the senior team since due to injuries, the tall 19-year-old proved his mettle during the U-19 World Cup this year.
Swinging the ball at 140 clicks, Tyagi picked up 11 wickets in 6 games including a crucial 4 for 24 against Australia in the quarters.
7. Ruturaj Gaikwad
A youngster who could find a place in CSK’s eleven in Raina’s absence is 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad. The right-handed batsman climbed the ranks in Maharashtra’s state squads, and his performances for the senior team earned him a place in the India A side where he consistently delivered with the bat.
The youngster also comes with heaps of experience in domestic cricket, having accumulated 2499 runs in 54 List A matches, 843 runs in 28 T20s and 1349 runs in first-class cricket.
In the 2019, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy, Gaikwad finished as the second highest run-getter, scoring 419 runs in 11 matches at a strike rate of 146.5.