The IPL might be about the potential match-winning combinations that bring the exuberance of youth with the weight of experience. But that’s not all there is about the IPL. It is also a brilliant launchpad for many a youngster who play competitive cricket in a licensed format for the very first time.
There are nerves. There is emotion. And there is a lot at stake. But above all, the unfurling of potential India careers being the biggest prize factor for young novices who are finding their feet in competitive cricket. A few years ago, it were the likes of Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, and Kuldeep Yadav who perhaps at the back of glitzy IPL exploits cut their teeth in national cricket. Today we all know where they are and just how strongly are their talents needed to help India find success- both on home soil and when playing overseas.
Today, in IPL 2018 we have amidst us a stable and new-looking bouquet of youth that seems to have the potential to forge strong and memorable India careers. But before the enchanting call-up to national duties, their first and perhaps most vital litmus test would be their forthcoming IPL results.
Let’s examine the talents and strengths of different youngsters from India who are contesting in IPL 2018 for the first time:
Abhishek Sharma- Delhi Daredevils
An eventual buying price of INR 55 Lakh may not perhaps explain the talent of this mild-mannered and nimbly moving cricketer. If anyone saw the Vijay Merchant Under-16 Trophy, then Abhishek Sharma’s free flowing manner of collecting runs would’ve instantly explained just why’s he such a bright find for the IPL. Few all rounders have impressed at such a young age as Abhishek, who not only plundered nearly 1200 runs in the tournament but also scalped 57 wickets.
All rounders, they say, are a rare find in Indian cricket. But now, with Abhishek Sharma in the IPL circuit, perhaps it may no longer be that way. The likes of Hardik Pandya would surely relish the sight of newcomers rising from the fold. Plus, there’ll be tons and tons of experienced and noted success stories around him from which to learn from: Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Ravindra Jadeja and the likes.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti- Kolkata Knight Riders
In the Under-19 World Cup that was contested earlier in January, there was one name that graced everyone’s attention and unmistakably so. It was the fast bowling tearaway- Kamlesh Nagarkoti from Rajasthan. A young, feisty talent and someone who can bowl around 140 k/hr and more at will, he is just the kind of pace quickie that India would need at the highest level. While in the successful world cup campaign, he showed us just how avidly he can bowl fuller and length deliveries, it will be interesting to see how Kamlesh approaches bowling in the death overs- an important facet for any youngster rising from the ranks.
Shivam Mavi- Kolkata Knight Riders
Another impressive fast bowling talent who is keen to succeed at the highest level, Shivam Mavi’s useful success in the Under-19 world cup, buoyed by key performances like 3-45 versus Australia, 2-16 against Papua New Guinea and, 2-27 against Bangladesh indicated that India have in their fold an intelligent thinking fast bowler. He’s someone who’s not only about blitz generated through pace but about the important facet of containing runs that eventually adds to the pressure for the scoring side. Through probing bounce and lateral movement, Kolkata Knight Riders now have a seemingly strong bowling side thanks to Shivam Mavi.
Shubhman Gill- Kolkata Knight Riders
A flair player and arguably the finest young batting talent we have today alongside Under-19 captain Prithvi Shaw. It seems Kolkata Knight Riders have gotten hold of a cricketing bonanza bolstered by the power and flair of youth. Gill, renowned for his ability to focus for long periods of time and collecting runs gracefully essays the quintessential construct of a modern day batsman. One who is about ebullience and one who’s also about thoughtfulness and intent, qualities you need in contemporary cricket that’s all about seamlessly adjusting to different demands of different formats. It will be exciting to see how Gill conducts himself when playing against mighty sides like Kohli’s RCB and Dhoni’s CSK.
Manjot Kalra- Delhi Daredevils
You know you are someone special and perhaps meant for glories when you immediately draw comparisons with Yuvraj Singh- a legend of the game. But Kalra, instead of assuming pressure with such hefty comparison seems buoyed by it. A classy timer of the ball, he can play the boisterous looking pulls and purring drives with finesse. IPL, so often made to be about big-hitting is also about elegance and timing; so it may all go down well for this ambitious run scorer.
Prithvi Shaw- Delhi Daredevils
Last but not the least, the Under-19 World Cup winning captain is a batsman who combines the dependability of someone like Rahul Dravid and the resilience and quiet sincerity of an Ajinkya Rahane. Surely a talent who’s cut out to go the long distance, Shaw can up the scoring ante admirably, just as well as he can hold on to an end and do the bulk of his side’s scoring diligently. But he will be mindful that the IPL is a different set of challenge altogether: where a lot has to be done in a fairly short amount of time. Is Shaw ready for the challenge? If you ask his backers and those who have seen in his talent- a hint of the sublime- yes!