One of the most prominent attributes of the Indian Premier League is the ability to introduce fresh talent to a global audience.
No matter how well youngsters do in domestic or age-group cricket, the confidence and experience they gain by rubbing shoulders with established international players expedites their growth at a crucial juncture in their careers.
Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and many more Indian cricketers made their way to international cricket after excelling in the IPL.
So ahead of the 13th edition of the IPL, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to November 8, let’s take a look at five Indian uncapped youngsters who have the potential to steal the spotlight.
(Note: Only those players have been picked who haven’t yet played a single game in the IPL so far or for the senior Indian team)
Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rajasthan Royals – Rs 2.4 crore)
He was by far the most impressive batsman in India’s runner-up finish at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year. In fact, with 400 runs from six matches, including a hundred and four half-centuries, he was the highest run-scorer in the tournament.
Jaiswal, at 18, is undoubtedly one of the brightest young batting talents in the country. Before making a name for himself at the global stage with the U-19 World Cup, he scored in heaps in domestic cricket. In 13 List A matches, he got 779 runs with three centuries and as many fifties.
The left-handed opening batsman, who can strike at a high rate while playing classical shots, will have to compete with Manan Vohra, Sanju Samson and Robin Uthappa at the top of the Royals’ batting order. Jaiswal’s performances so far compel one to believe he’s made for bigger things.
Ravi Bishnoi (Kings XI Punjab – Rs 2 crore)
Along with Jaiswal, Bishnoi was the standout player for India at the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa this year. The leg-spinner impressed one and all with his skill and fiery attitude, returning with 17 wickets in six games to be the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
The 20-year-old from Rajasthan is a joy to behold in full flow. He uses the conventional leg-spinner rarely but effectively, has a mean googly, a brilliant flipper, and varies his pace smartly. In the T20 format, where wrist spinners have historically done well, Bishnoi could be devastating. Which is why four-time champions Mumbai Indians showed great interest in his services too, but couldn’t match Punjab’s bid.
Bishnoi has Krishnappa Gowtham, Murugan Ashwin and Mujeeb ur Rahman for company among the spinners in the Kings XI squad. There’s a good chance the youngster could play consistently in the upcoming IPL season considering he is the most promising wrist spinner in his side. Under Anil Kumble’s guidance, he could flourish.
Devdutt Padikkal (Royal Challengers Bangalore – Rs 20 lakh)
Yes, that’s what RCB paid to acquire his services at the auctions last year. His base price of Rs 20 lakh. For the uninitiated, that is an absolute steal. He didn’t get to play a single game for the men in red last season, but that seems more than likely to change this time around.
Padikkal may not be an India Under-19 star but in terms of domestic white-ball cricket, the 20-year-old left-handed opener was arguably the biggest name last season. Playing for Karnataka, he set the stage on fire with one outstanding performance after another.
In the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, he scored a staggering 609 runs in 11 matches to finish as the highest run-getter in the tournament and help his team win the title. As if that wasn’t enough, he scored the most runs in the following Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy as well, with 580 runs from 12 games at a phenomenal strike-rate of 175.75.
RCB have Padikkal, Parthiv Patel, Aaron Finch and Josh Philippe as options for the opening slots. Assuming only one of the overseas players will make the cut, there’s a good chance Padikkal will edge out Patel for the other spot since AB de Villiers could keep wickets.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti (Kolkata Knight Riders – Rs 3.2 crore)
He hasn’t played a professional match since February 2018, which makes him an odd pick for this list. But anyone who has seen what Nagarkoti can do on a cricket field will know that he is a special talent.
The right-arm pacer was a star performer in India’s 2018 Under-19 World Cup triumph in New Zealand, taking nine wickets at 16.33. His ability to generate speeds of around 140 kmph consistently, at the age of 18, left the likes of Rahul Dravid and Ian Bishop in awe. Add to that, his natural athleticism and ball-striking ability made him a rare prospect.
However, because he generated that kind of pace with a relatively small frame for a fast bowler, it took a toll on his body and he ended up suffering injuries on his heel, ankle and lower back. He was bought for Rs 3.2 crore by KKR in the 2018 auction but hasn’t played a single game for them in the past two seasons.
It’s been a long road back, both mentally and physically for young Nagarkoti, but he is fully fit now and raring to make up for lost time. He has plenty of competition in the KKR squad, though, with his India U-19 teammate Shivam Mavi, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson fighting for the pacer’s slots. But, if he gets a run of games, he could be the breakout star this season.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (Chennai Super Kings – Rs 20 lakh)
Just like Padikkal, Gaikwad was prolific in Indian domestic cricket’s previous season. And just like Padikkal, he was also bought for a bargain at his base price.
The 23-year-old right-handed batsman has been the highest run-getter for India A in List A games over the past two years, with 843 runs in 15 innings. After scoring heavily for India A against West Indies A and South Africa A last year, he continued his fine form in the Deodhar Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer in the T20 tournament with 419 runs in 11 matches.
Gaikwad, known for his solid technique and attractive strokeplay, could be used at No 3 in the batting order with Suresh Raina missing in action. Three-time champions CSK have Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay and Shane Watson as options for the top of the order. And all the indications from the camp are that they are banking on this young gun to fill the massive gap left by Raina.
(Stats courtesy: ESPNCricinfo)