Arguably the biggest T20 league in the world, each edition has unearthed some of the brightest talents from India’s domestic circuit since its inception in 2008. While some of these youngsters fade away after a season or two, the others find their way to international cricket based on their good performances in the league.
From the Pandya brothers to Jasprit Bumrah and Washington Sundar, the league has played a big role in polishing some of the current players on the Indian team. Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and T Natarajan are the latest examples of those who have received their international call-ups after delivering consistently in crunch situations for their respective franchises and performing well in the domestic circuit.
Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rahul Tewatia were impressive in the previous edition and will continue to be key members for their respective franchises this season. So let’s take a look at the 5 domestic players to watch out for in the upcoming edition of the league:
- Shahrukh Khan (Team Punjab)
Tamil Nadu’s Shahrukh Khan was picked up by the Punjab-based team for ₹5.25 crore after he impressed everyone with his power-hitting in the recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT). He had a strike rate of 220 in the SMAT, the highest in the tournament. His 19-ball 40* in the quarterfinals was the innings in particular that brought him under the radar of the franchisees ahead of the mini-auction in February.
The Punjab team lacked depth in the middle order last year, which can now be filled by this 25-year-old big-hitting batsman. Shahrukh has played 31 T20s, scoring 293 runs at a strike rate of 131.39. He also scored 3 half centuries in the five matches played in the VHT.
2. Jalaj Saxena (Team Punjab)
While he has been a part of many teams before, Jalaj Saxena is yet to make his debut in the tournament. He was signed up by Mumbai for the 2013 and 2014 season, later bought by Bangalore for the 2015 edition and Delhi in the 2020 auction. Predominantly seen as a longer-format bowler, he has established himself as a quality shorter-format bowler too and hence, he was picked up by the Punjab franchise in the 2021 auction.
Jalaj was the third-highest wicket-taking spinner amongst the Indian spinners in the SMAT 2021, while having the joint-highest bowling average with Rahul Chahar. His good form continued in the VHT where he took 8 wickets at an economy of 3.74, which was the lowest amongst all spinners. He can open the innings with the new ball and can take wickets at any juncture of the game, without conceding many runs. Under the guidance of the legendary spinner Anil Kumble, who is the coach of the team, this might be the breakout year for him.
3. Chetan Sakariya (Team Rajasthan)
Chetan Sakariya, a left-arm seamer from Saurashtra, was picked up by Rajasthan for ₹1.2 crore in the 2021 auction. He had a terrific SMAT 2021, taking 12 wickets in five matches at an average of 8.17 and a brilliant economy rate of 4.90. His best figures of 5 for 11 came against Vidarbha. The 23-year-old varied his pace well and bowled with good control throughout the tournament.
With left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat failing to provide adequate support to Jofra Archer, who is likely to miss the first half of the 2021 season due to an elbow injury, Sakariya is more than likely to feature in a few games and make his name for the franchise and the future.
4. Devdutt Padikkal (Team Bangalore)
Devdutt Padikkal was in scintillating form during the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021, scoring 737 runs in seven innings at an average of 147.4 and a strike rate of 95.96, including 4 consecutive centuries.
The 20-year-old left-handed batsman made his debut in the last edition of the Indian T20 League and ended the tournament as Bangalore’s highest run scorer (473 runs in 15 matches), the most by an uncapped Indian batsman in a debut season. Moreover, he won the “The Emerging Player of the Year” award in the last edition. Assured of filling the opening slot alongside Virat Kohli in this season, another successful outing with the bat will surely bolster his case for a call-up to the national team.
5. Ruturaj Gaikwad (Team Chennnai)
In the previous edition, Chennai finished 7th in the points table and missed out on making it to the playoffs for the first time in their history. One of the positives from the disappointing campaign for the team was the emergence of Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Ruturaj became the first uncapped Indian player to score three half centuries consecutively, with scores of 65*, 72 and 62*. In six matches, he averaged 51 and had a decent strike rate of 120.71. While MS Dhoni was criticized for not giving sufficient chances to youngsters despite the poor performance of the experienced players in the last season, the 24-year-old is expected to be much more integral to Chennai’s plans this time around. He will be eager to shine and prove that he belongs at this level and much more.
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