New stars to emerge from IPL 2021

Be it Jasprit Bumrah, Shaun Marsh or T. Natarajan, the IPL has served as the ultimate platform to promote hidden talent. Here is a look at six rising Indian cricketers who laid claim to a bright future with their stellar shows in IPL 2021.

Dubai: Venkatesh Iyer of Kolkata Knight Riders during the final of the Indian Premier League 2021 between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders, at the Dubai International Stadium, UAE, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for IPL)(PTI10_15_2021_000282A)   -  PTI

Venkatesh Iyer (Kolkata Knight Riders)

The unheralded Venkatesh Iyer has been a revelation this season. The opener bats with a fearless attitude, taking on all comers. His confidence was evident in his very first match for Kolkata Knight Riders, when he slapped India pacer Mohammed Siraj for two off-side boundaries in the opening over. He ended the game with an unbeaten 41, and things only got better from here.

In the Qualifier 2, Venkatesh proved that he is more than just a one-trick pony. On a slow pitch where batters struggled, Venkatesh played with great freedom to make a match-winning 55. During the course of his knock, he walked down the track to Delhi Capitals pacer Kagiso Rabada and whacked him for a six. Clearly, this was a man brimming with self-belief.

READ: IPL 2021: Venkatesh Iyer, KKR's surprise hero

The 26-year-old, who plays for Madhya Pradesh in the domestic circuit, recorded four fifties this season. His electric approach at the top of the order, alongside Shubman Gill, has been key to the success of KKR.

Harshal Patel (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

Harshal Patel stole the show in an outing against Mumbai Indians, when he recorded a fabulous hat-trick.   -  PTI

 

With 32 wickets, Harshal Patel finished as the tournament’s highest wicket-taker. The uncapped fast bowler also became the joint-highest wicket taker ever in an IPL season, alongside Dwayne Bravo’s returns for Chennai Super Kings in 2013.

Harshal stole the show in an outing against Mumbai Indians, when he recorded a fabulous hat-trick. By scalping Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Rahul Chahar, Harshal sealed a 54-run win for RCB. Harshal has also ‘been on a hat-trick’ four times in this IPL season.

Harshal started the campaign in fine fashion, picking up five wickets against MI in Chennai. He possesses a deadly repertoire of slower balls, which grips the surface and invariably baffles batters. With great control over length and variation, Harshal consistently gets the batters to play early and make the mistake. Harshal is most effective with the old ball, when batters try to slog.

The 30-year-old Haryana pacer has provided the answer to RCB’s death bowling woes. Harshal will be disappointed to miss the bus for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup, but his time in India colours cannot be too far away.

Ruturaj Gaikwad (Chennai Super Kings)

Ruturaj Gaikwad finished as the tournament’s highest run-scorer, with 635 runs.   -  PTI

 

Gaikwad had an up and down season for CSK in IPL 2020. He contracted COVID-19, and upon his return to the field, was dismissed for two ducks in his first three innings.

Despite the setback, CSK, under the leadership of M. S. Dhoni, stuck by the opener. Gaikwad repaid the faith, striking three fifties in an otherwise disappointing season for the team.

In IPL 2021, Gaikwad proved that CSK was right in earmarking him for big things. The Maharashtra batter finished as the tournament’s highest run-scorer, with 635 runs. He scored four fifties, and an unbeaten 101 against Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi. He came good in the crucial Qualifier 1, racking up a 50-ball 70 to help CSK defeat Delhi Capitals.

Ruturaj, who has played two T20Is in the recent tour to Sri Lanka, does not feature in the T20 World Cup squad.

Avesh Khan (Delhi Capitals)

As a reward for his consistency, Avesh Khan has joined the Indian team for the T20 World Cup as a net bowler.   -  PTI

 

The fast bowler played a big role in DC finishing on top at the end of the league stage. Avesh was a consistent wicket-taker, finishing the tournament as the second most successful bowler behind Harshal Patel.

The Madhya Pradesh cricketer was especially efficient in the death overs. He perfected the yorker, as seen in an outing against MI, when he cleaned up Hardik Pandya with a beauty.

Avesh clearly earned the confidence of his captain Rishabh Pant, who regularly entrusted him with the death overs ahead of more senior colleagues like Kagiso Rabada. The 24-year-old will be especially happy that he was able to dismiss former India captain and CSK star M. S. Dhoni twice in this tournament. As a reward for his consistency, Avesh has joined the Indian team for the T20 World Cup as a net bowler.

Varun Chakravarthy (Kolkata Knight Riders)

Varun Chakaravarthy finished as the highest wicket-taker for his side (18 wickets).   -  PTI

 

On slow, low Sharjah pitches, Varun Chakravarthy was near unplayable. With excellent control and a plethora of variations, the finger spinner choked up the runs in the middle overs. Alongside Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan, KKR boasted of the best spin combination in the tournament.

Varun achieved the breakthroughs as well, finishing as the highest wicket-taker for his side (18 wickets). With a superb tournament economy rate of 6.58, he was the most miserly bowler among the top-10 IPL wicket-takers.

His best performance came against RCB, when a three for 13 haul earned him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.

Varun’s great run is set to continue in the T20 World Cup. The mega event will be held at the same venues — in the UAE — where Varun has tasted so much success. Fitness concerns, which have dogged Varun’s career for a while now, could pose a threat to his international ambitions, though.

Umran Malik (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

Umran Malik, a little-known player, grabbed the headlines when he delivered a 153 kmph thunderbolt in a match against RCB.   -  PTI

 

Umran Malik, a little-known player, grabbed the headlines when he delivered a 153 kmph thunderbolt in a match against RCB.

READ: Meet Umran Malik, the SRH bowler who clocked 150 kph on IPL debut

The Jammu and Kashmir speedster may have played only three matches for SRH, but he certainly made an impact with his sheer pace. Umran, who had played just two white ball matches (one List A and one Twenty20) for his State before the IPL began, will stay back with the Indian team as a net bowler for the T20 World Cup.