Ever since its inception, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has served as a great platform to showcase your skills and grab the attention of the national selectors.
Every IPL season introduces us to relatively unknown cricketers who end up surpassing the fame of their better-known counterparts. They are picked in the team as only second fiddles but put up performances which could pave their way to national selection.
A certain Hardik Pandya or Jasprit Bumrah might have never played for the Indian Cricket Team if not for the IPL. Most youngsters in current India ‘A’ and the national team are products of the T20 extravaganza.
IPL 12 was no different. We saw hat-tricks and match-saving knocks from those we kept the least of hopes from. Here's a look at five such uncapped cricketers this season, who may get to don the national jersey sometime soon.
Riyan Parag – All-rounder, Rajasthan Royals
The 17-year-old Parag featured in only seven games for Rajasthan Royals, making it into the playing XI after half the season was over. But the all-rounder made the most of those few games by announcing himself as the next big thing in T20 cricket.
In only his second game, the right-handed batsman scored a 29-ball 43 to lead his side to a win against the mighty Mumbai Indians. The more impressive knock, however, came against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens. When all his teammates failed, Parag scored 47 to stabilise the ship and win yet another match for the Royals.
In the final match of the season, he finally breached the 50-run mark and became the youngest to score a half-century in the IPL. Also, the leg-break bowler, who was picked up for INR 20 lakh in the auction, scalped two wickets in the league.
There is a sense of calmness in Parag’s batting, which makes him a great prospect for the future.
Shreyas Gopal – All-rounder, Rajasthan Royals
The 25-year-old wily leg-spinner, who played six matches for Mumbai Indians between 2014 and 2016, was bought by Rajasthan in the 2018 auction. By the end of the league stage, where Royals’ campaign ended, Gopal was the third-highest wicket taker, picking up 20 scalps in 14 games.
Out of those 20 wickets, he dismissed Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers twice each, before registering a hat-trick in the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, in which he sent back de Villiers, Kohli and Marcus Stoinis.
Overall, Gopal conceded just 7.22 runs per over in all the games that he played, which makes him a bowler to look out for in the future. The way in which he mixes his variations and flights the ball makes him lethal with the cherry.
With the bat, however, he hardly got any opportunities, scoring 63 runs from 14 games.
Rahul Chahar – Bowler, Mumbai Indians
The younger of the Chahar brothers, 19-year-old Rahul made his way into eventual champions Mumbai’s playing XI as a replacement for Mayank Markande, who lost his sheen this season after a spectacular debut season in 2018.
In the all-important finals, he bowled an impressive 13 dot balls, finishing with astounding figures of 1 for 14 in four overs. Overall, Chahar scalped 13 wickets in 13 matches at an economy rate of 6.55 which included two three-wicket hauls.
"Rahul Chahar stands out. I shared my opinion (with Mahela Jayawardene) before he played his first game and I thought he was fabulous. Sixth to the 15th over, he bowled with a slip there and that was some real quality bowling in a crucial match," shared Sachin Tendulkar after Mumbai's triumph against Chennai in the finals.
Navdeep Saini – Bowler, Royal Challengers Bangalore
In Bangalore’s notorious fast bowling line-up, 26-year-old Saini was the only silver lining. Snapped up for INR 3 crore for IPL 2018, the fast bowler did not play any match last season but was a revelation this year.
Having picked up 11 wickets from 13 matches, he was RCB’s best pacer and second best bowler after spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Saini consistently clocked between 142 to 145 km/hr, which makes him a threatening bowler. He is one of the four pacers who will assist Team India in their World Cup preparations in England in the nets.
Saini’s rise has been so fluent, that former India pacer Ashish Nehra reckons the youngster should have been a part of India’s World Cup squad.
“He’s got pace and bounce and the most important thing is he’s confident right now especially in this format because it’s really quick. Look where he’s today. He is the first standby so if any fast bowler gets injured he will be the one playing the World Cup,” Nehra said in a media interaction.
Prithvi Shaw – Batsman, Delhi Capitals
The exceptionally talented young batsman made his debut for India in whites, but the one in blue flannels still remains due.
Shaw did not particularly own the IPL 12; after a knock of 99 in is third innings, he failed in four successive games before making it count in the Eliminator against Hyderabad, where he scored a 38-ball 56 to take his side to the Qualifier 2.
He is an attacking and confident batsman. Once the careers of the current Indian greats reach their twilights, Shaw will be among the frontrunners for a regular place in the national set-up.