The IPL 2023 is winding to a close as the Playoffs approach. Amid the mighty maximums, acrobatic catches and buckets of wickets, there were players whose value soared as the tournament progressed. We take a look at a team of 11 such uncapped Indian players who could take on Rohit Sharma’s first-choice T20 XI.
Left-hander Abhishek Sharma’s clean hitting coupled with his ability to bat in multiple positions make him a valuable asset. He is also a crafty left-arm spinner, and in 10 T20 games for Punjab during the 2022–23 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he picked up 10 wickets at an economy rate of just 5.10. In an otherwise disappointing IPL 2023 campaign for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Abhishek has been a silver lining thanks to his timing, placement, and willingness to go over the infield in the PowerPlay.
Jaiswal’s purple patch from the domestic season has continued unabated in this IPL. The stylish left-hander recently smashed the fastest fifty in the history of the IPL, off 13 balls, against the Kolkata Knight Riders. In the same game, Jaiswal smacked KKR skipper Nitish Rana for 6, 6, 4, 4, 2, 4 in what was the second-most expensive first over in IPL history. Jaiswal’s 625 runs for the Rajasthan Royals at a strike rate of 163.61 this year are the most by an uncapped player in an IPL season, bettering Shaun Marsh’s 616 runs in 2008. Jaiswal’s masterful timing and placement, bolstered by an unhinged mindset in the first six overs, make him a potent weapon at the top.
Tilak Varma missed four matches for Mumbai Indians with an injury but gave ample evidence of his class and power-hitting abilities during the first half of this IPL. Tilak struck a 10-ball 26 against the Punjab Kings in Mohali as Mumbai Indians became the first IPL team to chase down 200-plus targets in successive games. Last year, Tilak and Jasprit Bumrah were the only players to feature in all 14 games for Mumbai. Tilak was also the team’s second-highest scorer with 397 at a strike-rate of 131 and average of 36.09.
IPL 2023 has been Jitesh Sharma’s breakout year. The wicketkeeper-batter excelled in his role for Punjab Kings, scoring 309 runs at a strike rate of 156.06 while batting lower than No. 5 for the large part of the season. Jitesh’s ability to attack from the get-go is what makes him so special.
Rinku Singh was one of the most heartwarming success stories of IPL 2023. He amassed 474 runs this season at an average of 59.25 and a strike rate of almost 150. His five sixes in the 20th over to seal a win over the Gujarat Titans is one of the IPL’s standout moments. Rinku also proved to be the backbone of KKR’s batting in 2023, taking over the finisher’s mantle from Andre Russell.
Nehal Wadhera had not played a single T20 game before this IPL season but has now emerged as one of Mumbai Indians’ brightest future prospects. His 21-ball 40 against Gujarat Titans, followed by a 51-ball 64 against Chennai Super Kings — both in losing causes, though — were glittering examples of the contributions he can make with the bat in the near future. But the icing on the cake really was his unbeaten 34-ball 52 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, when he stitched together a 140-run stand off 66 balls with Suryakumar Yadav and took his side home in a 200-run chase.
The Gujarat Titans all-rounder has set the IPL ablaze with his death-overs strikes in the last couple of seasons. His 2020 innings for Rajasthan Royals against Kings XI Punjab, in which he smashed five sixes to turn the game on its head, is part of IPL folklore and one of the reasons why the Titans shelled out big money for him at the auction. Until recently, Tewatia had predominantly been a leg-side player, but he seems to have now worked on his off-side game as well, which has added a new dimension to his finishing abilities. In this IPL, he has already played some decisive knocks, but one of the highlights was his five-ball 20 that propelled his side to a match-winning 207 against the Mumbai Indians. His tidy spells of legspin bowling also make him a valuable asset.
Harpreet Brar, the Punjab Kings spin-bowling allrounder, shot to fame in 2021 when, in the space of seven deliveries, he dismissed Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, and AB de Villiers without conceding a single run. He has since become an integral part of the Kings set-up with his crafty left-arm spin. Brar’s main strength is his temperament and an understanding of what lines and lengths to bowl in which phase. In IPL 2023, his four for 30 to help his side knock the Delhi Capitals out of this tournament.
Lucknow Super Giants fast bowler Mohsin Khan made a stunning comeback from shoulder injury to help his team beat Mumbai Indians after successfully defending 11 in the final over of the chase. He wasn’t fit for the first half of IPL 2023, and the game against Mumbai was only the second time he was bowling this season. He made a splash in IPL 2022, his debut season, with 14 wickets in nine matches at an economy rate of 5.97. Mohsin mainly bowled in the PowerPlay and at the death for LSG last season, one of the most challenging asks in the T20 format.
Tushar Deshpande has ensured death-over bowling is not a concern for the Chennai Super Kings in the absence of Dwayne Bravo, who retired from the IPL last year. Although Deshpande has been expensive at the death this year, he has also picked up wickets. Deshpande’s ability to mix up his pace and use his variations holds him in good stead. Deshpande has taken 20 wickets in 14 matches so far and, with Matheesha Pathirana, has formed a formidable fast bowling pair.
Yash Thakur has impressed in the limited opportunities he has got with Lucknow Super Giants. He was snapped up last auction because of his death bowling prowess. He came off a superb Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, where he picked up 15 wickets in 10 matches and finished with an economy rate of 7.17. He has 10 wickets in eight IPL 2023 matches at 9.16 so far.
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