The 12 seasons of IPL have always brought out a few success stories of emerging players maturing into India’s white ball stalwarts.
From the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to the fearless babysitter Rishabh Pant, each year has seen youngsters up their game and be given a shot to don the blue jersey and represent India, mostly in white ball cricket.
Here are my eight emerging players who have a shot of playing for India after the World Cup ends, especially in the shorter formats.
Mumbai Indians – Rahul Chahar
The 19-year-old leg spinner was overlooked for the 2018 Under 19 World Cup squad for India and he says it spurred him on to work harder.
With no experienced Indian spinner in the Mumbai squad this year, Chahar was given the responsibility to get break partnerships or at least chokehold the batting team from one end. He rarely conceded runs, finishing off with figures of 13/308 in 13 matches at an impressive economy of 6.55.
His ability to control his variations and not be afraid to flight the ball is an asset that Indian fans would love to see soon.
Mumbai Indians celebrates the dismissal of Andre Russell of Kolkata Knight Riders during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai, India, Sunday, May 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
My favourite performance from Rahul Chahar was in the IPL final against Chennai Super Kings. With CSK requiring 97 off 84 chasing 150, Chahar kept things tight and his pressure was rewarded with the wicket of Suresh Raina. His figures of 1/14 at an economy of 3.5 was instrumental towards Mumbai’s thrilling one run win in Hyderabad.
Chennai Super Kings – Deepak Chahar
Yes he is related to Rahul, being the older cousin and the competitive edge was visible in the IPL final when he gave his younger cousin a send off.
He’s not exactly a young rising star, but the late bloomer has developed into a handy swing bowler under the captaincy of Indian legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The 26-year-old holds the record for the most amount of dot balls this IPL – 190. He’s improved his death bowling skills this year, as he bailed Chennai out of jail in the latter overs on flat pitches with his yorkers and back on the hand slower balls.
His best performance was against the Kolkata Knight Riders, rattling their aggressive top order with three wickets and surprisingly keeping Andre Russell quiet in the death overs. Won’t be long until he adds more to his two caps for India in the white ball games.
Delhi Capitals – Shreyas Iyer
Added with the responsibility of captaincy, the 23-year-old delivered as a batsman and as a leader, taking the underachieving franchise to their first playoffs since 2012.
Due to the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant’s flair and freedom catching the eye of spectators, Iyer probably went under the radar to pundits and fans.
In 16 matches, the Mumbai-born batsman scored 463 runs at an average of just over 30, hitting three half centuries.
His game awareness has improved a lot and his game has improved much more. My favourite innings from Iyer this season was his 49 ball 58, where he ensured he batted until the end to take the Delhi boys over the line against Punjab in a run chase of 164.
He was probably unlucky to be overlooked for the World Cup, but I’m sure he will get enough opportunities to prove himself before the next World Cup in 2023.
Sunrisers Hyderabad – Khaleel Ahmed
Following being dropped from India’s ODI and T20 squad after their tour of New Zealand earlier this year, Khaleel’s next proper opportunity to showcase his skills to the Indian selectors was in the IPL.
He wasn’t included in Sunrisers playing XI at first, but when he did, he never let go of his chance. The left armer climbed his way to fifth on the leading wicket taking lists with 19 in nine games at an economy of 8.23.
Whenever he came on to bowl, a wicket wasn’t far behind. His best gig with the ball was in the eliminator against the Delhi Capitals, using his variations and taking crucial wickets in key stages but unfortunately, his performance went to vain as Delhi won a thriller.
I feel he was rushed into playing for India as they haven’t had a left-arm seamer since the days of Irfan Pathan. Now that he’s had a proper IPL season behind him and considering that he delivered this year, he could do well if there’s an injury to one of India’s quicks in the World Cup. Even if he doesn’t play in the World Cup, the 21 year old has a very bright future ahead of him.
Kolkata Knight Riders – Shubman Gill
Gill had caught the eye of former international players following his man of the series during the 2018 ICC Under 19 World Cup.
For some unknown reason, Gill was used as a floater again this season until he was finally given the chance to open, scoring three 50s in five innings as an opener.
He’s naturally a top three batsman which is visible by his technique and strokeplay, but he’s not afraid to smash the spinner down the ground or pull the quicks if he thinks it’s in his arc. My favourite Gill innings this IPL was his 45 ball 76 against Mumbai Indians. He effortlessly played his cover drives and played risk free cricket.
He’s another player who was unlucky to miss out on World Cup selection but he’s the future of Indian cricket alongside Prithvi Shaw.
Get him into the Test team as a no.6 and groom him. His technique is good enough to do well in Test cricket. He’s born to bat long periods as he’s shown many times for his native state Punjab and for KKR in the IPL.
Kings XI Punjab – Sarfaraz Khan
Injury had cut his IPL short, otherwise he was threatening to finally break through in the IPL arena. Playing as a floater, the 21 year old hit 180 runs in eight innings at an average of 45 with one half century.
His unpredictable scoop shots similar to Brendon McCullum is something he has shown throughout his IPL career, but he’s just as good playing conventional shots. His strike rate in the IPL declined a lot from his 59 ball 67 on a tearing pitch in Chennai, but he showed he’s also got the game to dig in on bowling friendly pitches.
If he improves his leg spin, he could be a like for like replacement for Kedar Jadhav after the World Cup considering Jadhav’s dodgy hamstrings.
Rajasthan Royals – Riyan Parag
“I wish I was as confident as he is when I was 17”, were the words of Steve Smith. Parag is a right handed middle order bat who can bowl some handy leg spin as well.
In his debut IPL season, the teenager showed a lot of maturity scoring 160 runs in eight innings at an average of 32 with one half century. In what was a turbulent season for the Royals, Parag was one of the rare shining lights.
His 47 in a pressure game against KKR was scintillating to watch while the likes of Smith and Ben Stokes struggled against KKR’s spinners.
Parag kept a cool head and by the time he was out, the game was done and dusted. He probably needs a season or two in order to fully understand his game before the India cap comes. But surely he will get a chance at least in T20 cricket within the next few years for India.
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Navdeep Saini
When experienced quicks like Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj were gifting victories to the opposition with their abysmal death bowling, rookie Navdeep Saini has given his all and delivered when captain Virat Kohli has called him on.
Royal Challengers Bangalore. (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
In his debut IPL season, Saini was clocking between 142 to 144 clicks consistently and hitting the deck hard. While he didn’t take as many wickets as he would’ve liked (11 wickets in 13 matches, economy of 8.27), he was always looking threatening and come IPL 2020, he would’ve improved his skills a lot more.
On a flat pitch in Bengaluru, Saini steamed in to give his side a chance of defending 150, taking 2-24 off four overs but it wasn’t enough with Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer having other ideas. I don’t think Saini will be making his T20 debut soon for India, but his first class form warrants him Test selection soon.
Players unlucky to miss out from each side – Ishan Kishan (Mumbai Indians), Shardul Thakur (Chennai Super Kings), Prithvi Shaw (Delhi Capitals), Sandeep Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Nitish Rana (Kolkata Knight Riders), Mayank Agarwal (Kings XI Punjab), Shreyas Gopal (Rajasthan Royals), Pawan Negi (Royal Challengers Bangalore)