The IPL extravaganza is almost a week away and franchises are busy promoting themselves or gelling together team members.
The beauty of the IPL over the years has been the way it rewards small town heroes and lesser known cricketers who strive to be heard amidst the millions and like every season, there are a hoard of little known players in every franchise this time around as well. Here's the cream of the lot and ones you need to keep an eye on during IPL 2018.
Rahul Tewatia (Delhi Daredevils)
A 24-year old leg-spinner, Tewatia's only claim to fame is a fabulous performance on his Kings XI Punjab debut against Kolkata Knight Riders in a do-or-die match last IPL season. The wrist spinner surprised quite a few by snaffling up Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir and completed his quota of overs conceding a meagre 18 runs.
Tewatia went on to wield his willow effectively and smashed 15 in 8 balls to complete an all-round display. Nevertheless, he played just two more matches in the season, but at Delhi Daredevils, where Ricky Ponting, the new head coach, has a keen eye for talent, Tewatia could get more game time. He was good in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition without quite catching the attention but the young man is a potential match-winner. If Ponting and Co and unearth his inner talent, Tewatia could be a major surprise package.
Krishnappa Gowtham (Rajasthan Royals)
The Karnataka off-spinning all-rounder is a fabulous talent and was fiercely fought for at the auctions. The 29-year-old had a golden day at the auctions where he fetched a whopping price tag of Rs 6.2 crores. He shot to limelight in Ranji Trophy 2016 and his performances earned him a place in the India A side.
Although Gowtham has been part of the IPL before — playing for Mumbai Indians — consistent game time has eluded him. But with a strong skill-set and an equally good temperament, Gowtham is IPL material without a grain of doubt. Rajasthan Royals, always remembered for churning out a number of young stars over the years, have an unpolished diamond in their hands in Gowtham. Can they bring out his shiny side?
Deepak Chahar (Chennai Super Kings)
Rajasthan medium pace bowler Deepak Chahar was a revelation in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition this year, grabbing 19 wickets in 9 matches to top the wicket-taker’s list. That he went at an economy rate of less than 6 and almost single-handedly powered Rajasthan to their maiden finals in the tournament further adds substance to Chahar’s feats.
Chahar was part of the Rising Pune Supergiant franchise last year and will once again team up with MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings on their return to the IPL after two years. Dhoni’s familiarity with Chahar's abilities should help his cause. He shot to fame in 2010-11 at just 18 when a scintillating spell of 8/10 in the Ranji Trophy that helped his team skittle out Hyderabad for 21, the lowest total ever in Indian domestic cricket. Chahar hasn't quite had consistent chances in the IPL but this season could be a breakthrough one for the ambitious fast bowler.
Shreevats Goswami (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
A swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman, Shreevats Goswami is a familiar name in Indian cricketing circles after making his IPL debut way back in 2008 in the inaugural season for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He switched to Kolkata Knight Riders and then Rajasthan Royals but never really caught enough attention to warrant a consistent place in the eleven.
His List A and T20 record make for good viewing but it was his tremendous form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 competition this year that won him a place in the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad at the auctions. Goswami was the fourth highest run getter, slamming 373 runs in 8 matches at an average of 53.28 that included five half-centuries. The last bit makes his season quite impressive. In five of the eight matches that he played, the wicket-keeper batsman managed to cross a half-century. Sunrisers could well have a trump card in this 28-year-old consistent and in-form batsman this season.
Dhruv Shorey (Chennai Super Kings)
The centurion from the Delhi side in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy finals against Vidarbha, Dhruv Shorey is a firefighter who thrives under pressure. Aside from slamming a gritty hundred in the Ranji finals in a losing cause, Shorey has been on a rescue mission countless times for Delhi.
His maiden first-class hundred came with Delhi at 9/2 and it lifted his side to a stunning come-from-behind victory. He played an equally pivotal role in an enthralling draw against Karnataka where he remained unbeaten on 107 against a strong pace attack.
His T20 record is a pretty impressive one too, with 379 runs in 14 innings’ at an average of 31.58 and a strike rate of 124.67. At Chennai, where he will team up with some stalwart cricketers, Shorey will have enough guidance to bank on. His firefighting abilities will come handy on the slow surfaces at Chepauk and the Dhoni-led franchise would do well to give the Delhi batsman a few chances.