On March 31, 2019, a 16-year-old legspinner Prayas Ray Barman made his Indian Premier League debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Sunrisers Hyderabad, becoming the youngest debutant in the history of the tournament. Prior to that, it was Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman who held the record, having made his debut for Kings XI Punjab in 2018 when he was just 17 years and 11 days old.
Prayas became a millionaire overnight on December 18, 2018, when he was bought by the Bangalore-based franchise in the auction for a whopping INR 1.5 crore, a 650% mark-up from his base price of INR 20 lakh.
A little-known legspinner from Kolkata first shot into the limelight when he scalped 11 wickets for Bengal in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy. He returned impressive figures of 4 for 20 on debut against Jammu & Kashmir and carried on producing eye-catching performances all through the competition. With an economy rate of just 4.45 in nine matches, he was called up to the Bengal Ranji Trophy squad at the age of just 15, though he is yet to make his first-class debut.
Prayas, who considers Shane Warne as his idol, started his cricketing career at an academy in Delhi but his professional career only started to take shape when he shifted to Durgapur, in Bengal, where he joined Durgapur Cricket Centre under the watchful eyes of his coach Shibnath Ray. He later shifted base to Kolkata after he caught the attention of the selectors in a local tournament and was selected for the Bengal U-14 and U-16 sides.
Standing 6'1" tall, Prayas has a classical leg-spinner's action and relies mainly on his stock delivery, though he has all the variations in his armoury.
A forgettable debut
Prayas was only 16 years and 157 days old when he was handed over his maiden IPL cap at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium and the legspinner had to feel the heat of in-form Hyderabad openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. The two had already added 59 runs in six overs when Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli handed over the ball to Prayas.
Prayas showed no signs of nervousness in his first over and kept both Warner and Bairstow guessing by mixing up his lengths and speeds and conceded only six runs. Just when he would have started feeling that he belonged at this level, all hell broke loose.
Bowling the second delivery of his second over, Prayas tossed one up to Bairstow and the England batsman lofted it over deep cover for a maximum and from thereon, things kept getting worse for the young lad. Bairstow then smashed back-to-back fours as Prayas ended up leaking 18 runs in that over. He was rightly taken out of the attack and was brought back three overs later.
Bairstow showed no mercy on the 16-year-old and tonked him for a six over deep mid-wicket, collecting 12 runs from his third over. There was no happy ending for Prayas as Bairstow continued the onslaught and got to his maiden century on the first delivery of the legspinner's final over. He smoked two more sixes in the over, while David Warner too joined the party by managing a boundary over backward square leg. Prayas finished with figures of 0 for 56 as both Bairstow and Warner slammed centuries and Hyderabad thrashed Bangalore by 118 runs.
That was his last match for the franchise as he was dropped from the playing XI and received no shot at redemption. He suffered a stress fracture after IPL 2019 and hasn't played a single competitive match since then. It took him four months to recover from that injury and just when he was about to make a comeback, Prayas injured his finger on the eve of the 2019 Vijay Hazare Trophy. He didn't have anything to show in his resume and was released by the franchise ahead of the 2020 auction.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Prayas said he wants to complete his BA course before he shifts his focus to the IPL. "You don't know when what happens. I was injured when my 12th results came out. By that time I knew what an injury can do. You have to finish graduating. I've not been attending college, [but my] college is supportive. Not even my parents are giving me a lot of pressure to study. They're just hoping I get my degree."