The tagline of the Indian T20 leagues reads “Where Talent Meets Opportunity.”
Apart from seeing all the world cricket superstars in our backyards, one of the most exciting and prominent attributes of the league is introducing fresh talent to a global audience.
No matter how well youngsters do in domestic or youth cricket, the confidence and experience they gain by rubbing shoulders with established international players boost their growth at a crucial juncture in their careers.
For Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and many more Indian cricketers, the league has been the breeding ground before taking to the international stage.
So let’s take a look at five Indian uncapped youngsters who have the potential to steal the spotlight in the ongoing 13th edition of the Indian T20 league taking place in the UAE from the 19th September to 10th November 2020.
Devdutt Padikkal (Team Bangalore – Rs. 20 lakhs)
Bangalore bought him at the auctions last year for the base price of Rs. 20 lakhs. In terms of potential, this is an absolute steal. He didn’t get to play a single game last season. Thirteen years ago, the team bought a similar young kid who is the face of the franchise now.
Padikkal may not be India’s Under-19 star but in terms of domestic cricket, especially white-ball cricket, the 20-year-old left-handed opener was arguably the biggest name in the last season. He set the stage on fire with several outstanding performances for Karnataka.
In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he scored 609 runs in 11 matches, finishing as the highest run-getter of the tournament and winning the title with his team. Also, he scored the most runs in the subsequent Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, with 580 runs from 12 games at a great strike rate of 175.75.
In his debut match for Team Bangalore, he scored a brilliant 56 off 42 balls, which included eight fours. He is the first Indian player to score a 50 on debut in the Indian T20 league since 2010.
With Aaron Finch, Virat Kohli, and AB De Villiers present in the dressing room to guide him, the future looks bright for this young Indian next-gen star.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (Team Chennai – Rs. 20 lakhs)
Gaikwad was very prolific in Indian domestic cricket in the previous season. And just like Padikkal, he was also bought at his base price.
He has been the highest run-getter for India A in List A games, with 843 runs in 15 innings over the past 2 years. He continued his fine form in the Deodhar Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament, with 419 runs from 11 matches. Also, he scored heavily for India A against West Indies A and South Africa A last year.
Unlike Padikkal, the start in the big leagues has not been great for Ruturaj, and he has scored a duck and 5 in his two innings so far. But trust Dhoni to give more chances to the youngster and help him succeed in his biggest challenge so far.
Gaikwad, known for his solid technique and attractive stroke play, could play a good number of games with Suresh Raina missing in action. And all the indications from the camp are that they are banking on this young gun to fill the massive gap left by Raina.
Abdul Samad (Team Hyderabad – Rs. 20 lakhs)
Hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, this 18-year-old player is a big-hitting right-handed batsman who was bought by Team Hyderabad for Rs. 20 lakhs in this year’s auction. He is only the fourth cricketer from J&K to get an Indian T20 league contract.
Abdul Samad made his T20 debut in the 2018-19 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He then went on to make his List A debut for J&K in the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy. Samad scored 592 runs in 10 matches, including two centuries and three half-centuries. Also, he hit 36 sixes — the most by anyone in the season — that eventually led to J&K making it to the quarter-finals for the second time in the history of the Ranji Trophy.
Abdul Samad has yet to play a match in this year’s tournament. He can set the stage on fire with his big-hitting prowess, which can make him a huge asset to Team Hyderabad. With a long tournament like this, expect him to play soon and show his talent on the world stage.
Yashasvi Jaiswal (Team Rajasthan – Rs. 2.4 crores)
Yashasvi was the most impressive batsman in India’s runner-up finish at the U-19 World Cup in South Africa earlier this year. In fact, with 400 runs at an average of 133.33 from six matches, including a hundred (in the semi-final against Pakistan) and four half-centuries, he was the highest run-scorer in the tournament.
Jaiswal is undoubtedly one of the brightest young batting talents in the country. Before making a name for himself at the U-19 World Cup, he scored very well in domestic cricket. He made 779 runs with three centuries and as many fifties in the 13 List A matches he played.
The left-handed opening batsman, who can strike at a high rate while playing classical shots, opened in the first match of the season for Rajasthan. He was out for just six runs. But Jaiswal’s journey and performances till now make you believe that he is destined for far bigger things.
Ravi Bishnoi (Team Punjab – Rs. 2 crores)
Along with Jaiswal, Bishnoi was the standout player for India at the U-19 World Cup in South Africa earlier this year. The leg-spinner impressed one and all with his skill and attitude, taking 17 wickets in six games, becoming the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
He uses the conventional leg-spin effectively, has a lot of variations, and varies his pace smartly. Bishnoi could be devastating in the T20 format, where wrist spinners have historically done well. This is why Mumbai also showed great interest in his services, but eventually, he went to Punjab’s team.
In the two matches he’s played so far, Bishnoi has been impressive with his variation and length. He has picked up 4 wickets, with 3 for 32 against Bangalore. There’s a good chance the youngster plays consistently this season, considering he has started well in the tournament and is the most promising wrist spinner in the side.
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