The 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin on March 31 as teams will return to their respective home grounds for the first time in four years.
While overseas stars and the newly-introduced ‘Impact Player’ will be in focus, the spotlight will also fall on the in-form domestic uncapped Indian players who can take the next step with consistent performances for their respective franchises.
Here is a look at a few local players who could light the IPL 2023 stage on fire:
Kolkata Knight Riders batter Rinku Singh has been among the most consistent players across formats in the domestic circuit over the last two seasons.
An explosive left-handed bat, Rinku has floated through the order for both his state Uttar Pradesh and KKR. In the 2022 season, Rinku featured in seven matches and racked up 148 runs for KKR while batting from positions 5-8. The 25-year-old’s spellbinding 15-ball 40 cameo against Lucknow Super Giants ended in a heartbreaking two-run defeat during KKR’s last group stage match. With an average over 50 in the First-Class and List A formats and a lively strike rate of 137.95 in T20s, Rinku could be the go-to man for Kolkata in a season where its batting resources wear a depleted look. With a strong performance, Rinku could also finally earn his call into the India A set-up and inch closer to the national team.
Rajat Patidar has not looked back since acing a superb comeback stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore late in the IPL 2022 season. After being released from the squad post-IPL 2021, Rajat was signed up as a replacement for Luvnith Sisodia last year.
Patidar unleashed his stroke-making prowess in the Eliminator clash against LSG, recording a blistering 54-ball 112 - 90 of which were generated from 19 boundaries. Patidar also racked up a half-century in Qualifier 2 against Rajasthan Royals. His effort, however, went in vain as RCB suffered a meek exit.
Patidar’s range off the backfoot currently places him among the best in the country. The 29-year-old led Madhya Pradesh to a historic Ranji Trophy title in June 2022 as he struck a century in the final. Patidar later stacked up 272 runs in the 2022-23 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at an astounding strike rate of 178.94. While the national cap has eluded him, a prolific run with RCB this season could help him establish a sustained presence in the Indian team across formats.
Everything keeps getting better for Yashasvi Jaiswal. While the IPL 2022 season for the Rajasthan Royals was not yielding (258 runs from 10 innings), Jaiswal ground it out in the 2022-23 domestic season for every team that he has represented across formats - Mumbai, West Zone, India A and Rest of India.
Since September 2022, Jaiswal has recorded a double on Duleep Trophy debut and a century on India A First-Class debut in Bangladesh. Earlier in March, Jaiswal racked up a double hundred on his Irani Cup debut as well and followed it up with a ton in the same match.
The RR management will have no doubts about who would pair Jos Buttler up top, but Jaiswal has expanded his versatility to also suit himself to any slot in the top order this season. The southpaw can also chip in with some handy leg spin and will be among the Royals’ lynchpins this season.
If his super-striking exploits for the Punjab Kings may have slipped under the radar, Jitesh’s out-of-the-blue call-up to the India T20I squad in January 2023 would have not. Sanju Samson’s injury provided the Vidarbha wicket-keeper with a rather quick but well-deserved inclusion after impressing one and all with his range-hitting capabilities. Jitesh, who also doubles up as a wicket-keeper, amassed 234 runs from 12 innings.
His strike rate of 163.63 was only second to Dinesh Karthik among Indians last year. The Vidarbha batter also notched up 220 runs in 10 innings in SMAT 2022-23, with three 40-plus knocks bearing 190-plus strike rates. In a Punjab batting line-up expected to be brimming with overseas firepower, Jitesh is tasked with hitting the straps in the death overs.
Bengal’s seam bowling spearhead Mukesh Kumar has been sizzling with the red ball in the domestic circuit. Mukesh’s ability to maintain nagging lines while swinging the new ball both ways has seen him become a regular in the India A setup.
Without any prior experience with the IPL, Mukesh earned a hefty Rs 5.5 crore contract with the Delhi Capitals during the IPL 2023 auction in December 2022, surging 27.5 times from his base price of Rs 20 lakh. While he had picked up only six wickets from six matches for Bengal in SMAT 2022-23, Mukesh could don the role of a PowerPlay enforcer for DC with his proficient swing and seam bowling.
“My inner conscience says I’m hitting 4 sixes in an over at some point this IPL.” While his tweet two weeks out from the IPL season will have its own share of judgements, Riyan Parag has seemingly found his zone with the bat through the 2022-23 domestic season.
Assuming centre-stage with Assam, Parag smashed 64 sixes across the SMAT, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Ranji Trophy tournaments. Parag’s counterattacking knocks laced with belligerence led Assam to its maiden VHT semifinal appearance. In the white-ball formats, the 21-year-old racked up a combined tally of 805 runs in 16 innings at an average of 67.08.
It will be interesting to see the role that the Royals would hand Parag this time. If he steps up, it will be worth the watch.
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