IPL 2021 will feature a number of uncapped (those who haven't represented India) players. Here are six of them who could make an impact this season.
1. Rajat Patidar : Rajat Patidar has been around for a few years, playing domestic cricket for Madhya Pradesh. A neat hitter who likes to club the ball down the ground or to the leg-side, he has been in excellent form of late in limited-overs cricket, registering numerous 50-plus scores in the last two months, including a career-best 96 in a T20 against Goa, and a 102 against Andhra in a Vijay Hazare Trophy contest on February 26. Patidar was purchased for his base price of ₹20 lakh by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL. Will he get a run in the star-studded RCB lineup? If he does, he can provide some fireworks.
2. Mohammed Azharuddeen : The 26-year-old Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman, named after the former India captain, was purchased for his base price of ₹20 lakh by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Azharuddeen has also been playing all formats for several years for his State side, but he made a name for himself among the elite Indian cricketers only recently when he scored the second-fastest century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, an unbeaten 137 against Mumbai. What’s his recent form like? He has scored a couple of half-centuries, including an unbeaten 59, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
3. Arjun Tendulkar : Although a relative newcomer to domestic cricket, Arjun Tendulkar is already a known name because he is the son of the Indian legend, Sachin. Only this year did he make his debut in a top-level BCCI domestic tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, registering figures of 1 for 34. The 21-year-old left-arm seamer, who has played U-19 cricket for India in the past, was picked “purely on a skill basis” by Mumbai Indians for ₹20 lakh. Tendulkar is unlikely to get an extended run this year; he would be too raw. But if he does get a game or two, he will generate considerable attention and perhaps some buzz if he does well.
4. Chetan Sakariya : Chetan Sakariya is a 22-year-old skilful left-arm seamer for Saurashtra, who was signed for ₹1.2 crore by Rajasthan Royals in the recent IPL auction. Besides being accurate and possessing the ability to bowl decent bouncers and fuller deliveries, he has a deceptive slower ball in his armoury. He has been in excellent form in the ongoing white-ball season, taking 19 wickets in his last 10 matches, including two three-wicket hauls and a five-wicket haul.
The five-wicket haul (5 for 11) was against Vidarbha in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy contest in January. Sakariya has good career stats in the T20s; he has taken 28 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 15.10 and an economy rate of 7.08. The strike-rate is excellent as well: 12.7. No wonder IPL clubs showed interest in procuring his services.
5. Shahrukh Khan : Tamil Nadu’s Shahrukh Khan is one of the numerous powerful strikers of the cricket ball in the domestic circuit, and his career T20 stats are unremarkable, with a strike-rate of 131 and an average of 18. Why, then, was he purchased for ₹5.25 crore by Punjab Kings? Maybe because they felt he could be a star like his namesake. Shahrukh can club the ball well and turn contests around with his stroke-making; he is tall, too, and can use it to his advantage while batting. Shahrukh has been in good form this season, scoring an unbeaten 40 (off 19 balls) in a T20 contest, and three half-centuries in a week in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
6. Jalaj Saxena : All-rounder Jalaj Saxena has a distinguished career in domestic cricket and given his all-round skills, it is indeed surprising that he hasn’t yet played a single game in the IPL. That could change this season, though; he was purchased for ₹30 lakh by Punjab Kings and may finally get to showcase his abilities. He has had an excellent career in all formats for Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, but even his T20 stats as a bowler alone are impressive: he has an average of 18.20 in 59 matches, an economy rate of 6.84 and a strike-rate of 15.9. Saxena, who is an off-spinner, can chip in with the bat as well, and therefore can be a valuable asset for the Kings.
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