IPL 2021: Young and able - Tales of India's super six!

At the end of an exciting IPL 2021, here is a look at some of the Indian cricketers who emerged as the talking points.

Published : Oct 16, 2021 12:24 IST

Ruturaj Gaikwad's purple patch in IPL 2021 included a century. - BCCI/IPL
Ruturaj Gaikwad's purple patch in IPL 2021 included a century. - BCCI/IPL

Ruturaj Gaikwad's purple patch in IPL 2021 included a century. - BCCI/IPL

The Indian Premier League is not just about superstars dominating the stage, it is also about unearthing rookie Indian talents and transforming them into match winners. Ever since its advent in 2008, the league has done that quite religiously - it has not only given financial security to the players, but has also given the youngsters confidence. And the result is evident with so many talented cricketers emerging season after season.

While this speaks volumes about the domestic cricket structure in the country, the franchises, too, deserve credit for keeping faith in the young, rookie cricketers and giving them an opportunity to prove their mettle at the big stage.

At the end of an exciting 2021 season of the IPL - which had a deserving winner in Chennai Super Kings - here is a look at some of the Indian cricketers who emerged as the talking points.

Ruturaj Gaikwad:  Featuring in his second IPL season, the youngster from Pune not only guided Chennai Super Kings to its fourth title, but also emerged as the highest scorer of the season, amassing 635 runs at an average of 46.61. His incredible feat earned him the Orange Cap and in the tournament, he also stamped his class with the bat. While his consistent performances ensured that Chennai Super Kings got off to a steady start, Gaikwad’s unbeaten century against Rajasthan Royals was one of his classy knocks in this edition of the IPL. Being in the circuit for a few years now, Gaikwad has grown as a cricketer and his team-mates and the cricket pundits agree that with time, he has only sharpened his skills.

His hard work at the domestic level helped Gaikwad earn an Indian team call-up for the tour of Sri Lanka, where he featured in a couple of T20Is, scoring 36 runs. While that was not quite a memorable outing, the 24-year-old trained hard and ensured that he had a successful stint in the IPL.

Venkatesh Iyer:  From warming the bench in the first leg of the IPL to becoming Kolkata Knight Riders’ most sought-after cricketer, life changed for Venkatesh Iyer in just four months. The 26-year-old from Indore featured in 10 fixtures for the Knights and amassed 370 runs at an average of 41.1 and also scalped three wickets. However, it hasn’t been an easy journey for the young gun. While he made it to the Madhya Pradesh team for the domestic season in 2015, he didn’t quite cement his place in the side. But his moment of glory came this year, when he topped the run charts for MP in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 227 runs in five innings at an average of 75.66 and a strike rate of 149.34. 

Exactly 10 days after KKR picked him up at the mini-auction on February 18, 2021, Iyer had bludgeoned a full-blooded Punjab attack to notch a match-winning 146-ball 198. Now, after a stellar IPL season, he will be joining the Indian team bubble for the T20 World Cup to help the side in its preparations.

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K. S. Bharat:  K. S. Bharat had an average of 17.80 and a strike-rate of 106.10 in 48 T20 outings when Royal Challengers Bangalore picked him in this year’s auction for his base price INR 20 lakh. While he has been one of the regular performers in the domestic circuit, the stumper-batter wasn’t really considered a best bet in T20s. 

However, Bharat emerged as one of the talked-about cricketers in the tournament after his last-ball six guided RCB to a seven-wicket win over Delhi Capitals. In a tricky game, where things could have gone in Delhi’s favour, Bharat smashed an unbeaten 78 off 52 balls to ensure a victory for RCB. In eight outings, Bharat scored 191 at an average of 38.20.

Harshal Patel:  The young pacer from Gujarat had a stellar start to the season, scalping a five-for in his first game against Mumbai Indians. And he kept the momentum going in the second leg of the tournament, scalping 15 wickets in eight games (32 wickets in 15 outings).

While he impressed the cricket pundits for being consistent, Harshal claimed a hat-trick against Mumbai Indians in Dubai, finishing with figures of 4 for 17. While his incredible feat for Royal Challengers Bangalore earned him the Purple Cap and the Most Valuable Player award, Harshal also made it to the Indian camp for the T20 World Cup as a net bowler.

Harshal Patel ended up as the highest wicket-taker in the IPL this season. - BCCI/IPL

Avesh Khan:  24 wickets in 16 outings is a laudable feat and the 26-year-old Avesh Khan turned all heads with his consistency. After playing just one game in the last season, Avesh looked confident as he rattled the top batsmen in the world and went on to become one of the star bowlers for Delhi Capitals. It was not easy to carve out a niche in the presence of world-class fast bowlers in Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, but with dedication and hard work, Avesh did an incredible job. He will now be joining the Indian team for the T20 World Cup as a net bowler.

Umran Malik:  When Umran Malik travelled to the United Arab Emirates with the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad in the first week of September, little did he know that he would soon make his Indian Premier League debut. This was his second stint with the franchise as a net bowler, and this time, too, he was hoping to have some good time at the nets. 

However, things changed quickly for the 21-year-old as he was named a short-term replacement for T. Natarajan - who contracted COVID-19 soon after reaching Dubai.

While he had to warm the bench in the first few games of the second leg, Malik was handed the cap against Kolkata Knight Riders and the young fast bowler from Gujjar Nagar in Jammu made heads turn with his speed. The young fast bowler clocked 146-plus speed in the very first over, and he entered 150s twice on the speed gun - the only Indian to have done so in the IPL. A couple of days later, he kept the momentum in the fixtures against RCB and Mumbai Indians.

While he has not featured in a first-class game yet, Umran made it to the limited-overs team of Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year and featured in two fixtures - a T20 and a 50-over game - where he made life difficult for the opponents. He has been named as a net bowler for the Indian team ahead of the T20 World Cup.

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