The Indian Premier League (IPL) has always been the kind of platform where young cricketers rubbed shoulders with some of the most well-known names in the sport, giving them some invaluable lessons in the early stages of their careers that few would have thought of in the past.
Performances in the league have, over the years, had an influence over selection matters as far as national teams are concerned. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, etc. were relatively unknown names before they made it big in the IPL, which helped fast-track their transition into Team India. Even overseas cricketers such as Australia’s David Warner have benefitted from a good run in the league as far as boosting their chances of cementing a spot in international cricket is concerned.
As we head into the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League, which takes place behind closed doors for the first time ever, and returns to the UAE after the 2014 edition, we take a look at some of the fresh faces from the eight franchises — individuals yet to play a single IPL game — who are likely to make heads turn this season.
Devdutt Padikkal, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Padikkal was the toast of the 2019 Indian domestic season as far as the limited-overs formats were concerned, and Virat Kohli and the rest of the RCB camp will have a lot of expectations from him to deliver for the franchise when the tournament gets underway.
The 20-year-old top-order batsman from Edappal, Kerala, topped the run charts in both the Vijay Hazare Trophy (609 runs at an average of 67.66) and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (580 runs at an average of 64.44) last year. While his feast of runs unfortunately was not enough to get him a ticket to South Africa for the U-19 World Cup earlier this year, it did catch the attention of the IPL scouts as the Bengaluru-based franchise secured his services at his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Padikkal is expected to walk out at the start of the RCB innings alongside Australia captain Aaron Finch, and the success of the two at the top of the order is crucial for the team to get off to solid starts and help ease some of the burden off Kohli and AB de Villiers’ shoulders.
Josh Philippe, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Another fresh face in the RCB camp who has already got the experts and fans talking is Josh Philippe. He might still be at the infancy of his career, but his exploits in the 2019-20 Big Bash League (BBL), in which he finished as the third highest run-getter, has everyone describing him as the next big thing in Aussie cricket.
The wicketkeeper-batsman from Western Australia, bought for a base price of Rs 20 lakh, made his BBL debut with Perth Scorchers before switching over to the Sydney Sixers, for whom he smashed five half-centuries at an aggregate of 487 runs (average: 37.46), including a crucial 52 in the final against Melbourne Stars that helped his team clinch their second title and earned him ‘Player of the Match’ award. Senior teammate de Villiers has been so impressed with Philippe that he even sees himself in the young Aussie recruit.
“I see a lot of similarities between the way he plays when I was younger,” de Villiers told ESPNCricinfo of Philippe, who in 2018 had smashed a half-century against a South African attack that included Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rajasthan Royals
There was a lot of buzz around Jaiswal heading into the U-19 World Cup that took place in South Africa earlier this year, and the young batsman justified the hype with a series of stupendous performances that helped the ‘Colts in Blue’ reach the final.
Jaiswal is in a league of his own as far as the batsmen of the tournament were concerned, collecting 400 runs from six appearances at an average of 133.33 with the help of five half-centuries and an unbeaten 105 against Pakistan in the semi-final. In fact, his only score below 50 in the tournament was against newcomers Japan in which he hit an unbeaten 29 while chasing 42 to win.
Jaiswal invited multiple bids during the auction, eventually going to the Rajasthan Royals for Rs 2.40 crore, and his performances in the ICC event will likely make him a regular member of the XI, at least in the initial rounds.
Jaiswal, whose List A numbers read 779 runs from 13 appearances at an average of 70.81, has had his share of hardships growing up in Mumbai, having had to sleep in a tent at one point. However, all that will be relegated to history the way he’s going about his craft right now, which will likely help the 18-year-old fast-track himself into the Indian team.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Chennai Super Kings
One person’s loss is another person’s gain, and Suresh Raina’s sudden decision to bow out of IPL 2020 without an explanation last month may very well be the kind of break that the young keeper-batsman was hoping to get in his maiden IPL appearance.
Gaikwad unfortunately hit a speed bump while the CSK squad was in quarantine after arriving in the UAE as he was one of the two players from the team, the other being Deepak Chahar, to have tested positive for COVID-19, and is yet to be medically cleared by the BCCI which rules him out of the opening game of the tournament against Mumbai Indians.
Once he returns to fitness, however, Gaikwad will hope to display the same kind of form that helped him finish second in the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali run-getters list with 419 runs at an impressive average and strike-rate of 41.90 and 146.50 respectively. The kind of form that hopefully leads to even brighter prospects for him for the future.
Ravi Bishnoi, Kings XI Punjab
Ravichandran Ashwin’s departure to Delhi Capitals after leading Kings XI Punjab for two seasons could see Bishnoi, another member of India’s 2020 U-19 World Cup squad, getting a more prominent role with the ball for the Mohali franchise.
What Jaiswal was to India with the bat in the U-19 World Cup, Bishnoi was with the ball. The 20-year-old leg-spinner, who hails from Jodhpur, finished as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 17 wickets to his credit (average: 10.64; economy: 3.48; strike rate: 18.3) with three four-wicket hauls, including one in the final.
Bishnoi, who was brought in for a fat sum of Rs 2 crore, may still have to fight his way into the team given the presence of the comparatively established offie Mujeeb Ur Rehman and leggie Murugan Ashwin, as well as the fact that Glenn Maxwell’s return to the franchise gives the team another slow-bowling option for the middle overs.
The youngster will have to thus make every opportunity count if he is to realise his dream of sharing the dressing room with the Kohli's and the Sharma's.
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