One of the biggest plus-points of the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the years has been the fact that a lot of Indian players have received a huge platform to showcase their skills. While domestic competitions such as Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy etc. are incredibly important in the development of a young cricketer, the IPL has often taken the game of a few players to the next level.
Sharing dressing rooms, training with and competing against some of the best is what enables them to improve their white-ball game. Usually, they also get to experience the pressure of playing under huge crowds, but unfortunately, that wasn’t possible this season. Despite that, there were many cricketers who got their first taste of IPL action this season and some of them showed great promise. Here are five such cricketers.
NOTE: Players considered here made their IPL debuts in 2020. Some might have been part of a franchise’s squad previously but never featured in the playing XI. Also, this list is in no particular order.
Devdutt Padikkal was one of the outstanding batsmen in Indian domestic cricket during the 2019/20 season, top-scoring in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well as the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. On the back of that, he was given a chance this season after having warmed the bench for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) last year.
Padikkal made full use of the opportunity presented to him as he began the season with an impressive half-century against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). He would go on to notch up two more fifties in his next three innings as he established himself in the RCB side. In a team that possessed batting heavyweights such as Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Aaron Finch, the 20-year-old ended the season as the franchise’s top run-scorer which is an incredible achievement by itself.
Padikkal managed 473 runs at an average of 31.5 and a strike rate of 124.8 in IPL 2020. In fact, no batsman after the inaugural edition in 2008 has managed more runs in a debut IPL season. Scoring rate is something he’d want to improve on, but if his numbers across all T20 cricket are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be a worry in the long-term.
If Ruturaj Gaikwad had played the entire season, he might have found himself a place in the above graphic as well. In total, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batsman scored 204 runs in six innings at an average of 51 and a strike rate of 120.7. If you look at his season more closely, you will notice a distinction between the first half and the second.
Gaikwad didn’t have much time to prepare for the season as he tested positive for COVID-19 in the lead-up to the tournament. When he came into the side, he was played in the middle-order and was dismissed for scores of 0 and 5 after which he was dropped for a while. He then returned when CSK were on the verge of elimination but looked all at sea against Mumbai Indians pacer Trent Boult and was dismissed for another duck.
After the aforementioned failures, there was pressure on Gaikwad and he showed tremendous character to bounce back. In his last three innings, he showed why he’s so highly-rated in Indian domestic circles as he notched up three successive fifties. More so, all three knocks helped CSK to end the tournament on a high. In a disappointing season, Gaikwad was one of the positives for an ageing Super Kings outfit.
Ravi Bishnoi was one of the stars of India’s run to the final at the U-19 World Cup earlier in the year, bamboozling batsmen as he finished the tournament as the highest wicket-taker. As you’d expect, after those performances, there was a lot of expectations from the 20-year-old ahead of this season’s IPL.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) had a multitude of spinners in their ranks – namely Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Murugan Ashwin, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jagadeesha Suchith and Harpreet Brar – yet it was the least experienced of the lot, Bishnoi, who played every game. While Bishnoi didn’t have an outstanding season, the fact that KXIP played him in every game shows how highly he is thought of.
One interesting aspect of his bowling was the regular use of the googly. Across the season, only Rashid Khan (184) bowled more googlies than Bishnoi (169). He had a bowling strike rate of 18.8 and an economy rate of 6.7 and, importantly, induced a false shot percentage of 33.1 using his wrong ‘uns. There were enough indications that Bishnoi has a bright future ahead of him.
Like Bishnoi, Abdul Samad does not have outstanding numbers to show for this season. In fact, 111 runs in eight innings and one wicket from seven overs seem underwhelming. But Samad definitely caught the eye with a couple of knocks, one of which came against Delhi Capitals (DC) in Qualifier 2.
With the Sunrisers facing an uphill task, Samad – alongside the experienced Kane Williamson – gave his team hope. His batting against Anrich Nortje was especially breathtaking as he took on the South Africa international bowler and hit him for a brilliant six over mid-wicket followed by two fours off three successive deliveries. You might also remember him going six-four-six against Jasprit Bumrah earlier in the tournament – that was some amazing hitting as well.
While the 19-year-old couldn’t take SRH home against DC in the end, his talent was there to be seen. He finished the season with a batting strike rate of 170.8 and had experienced cricketers heaping praise on him with Harbhajan Singh tweeting: “Abdul Samad gonna be a special & Big player in future.. played some brilliant shots today specially that pull shot against Nortje”.
Alongside Bishnoi, Kartik Tyagi was also one of the top bowlers at the 2020 U-19 World Cup. Again, his numbers weren’t that great during the IPL either – nine wickets at a strike rate of 25.4 and an economy rate of 9.6 – but there were signs as far as a promising future was concerned.
Apart from Jofra Archer, the Rajasthan Royals bowling on the whole was disappointing this season. This wouldn’t have helped 20-year-old Tyagi, especially considering he was left to bowl some tough overs at the end of the innings.
A couple of things he’ll want to improve on are his Powerplay bowling and his overall line and length. During the first six overs of the innings, he conceded 10.8 runs per over which is far from ideal. On the other hand, a look at Tyagi’s bowling pitch map across the entire innings below, you’d notice that he was all over the place. With experience, he’ll surely bowl more consistently which should consequently get him better results.
Priyam Garg captained the Indian team at the U-19 World Cup and he had a middling IPL season with SRH. In total, he scored 133 runs in 10 innings at an average of 14.8 and a strike rate of 119.8 in IPL 2020. There was one magnificent knock amongst the lot – an unbeaten 51 from 26 deliveries against CSK when the team from Hyderabad found themselves in dire straits. Garg will be hopeful of building from this season and producing a better one next year.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti is also a U-19 World Cup star, albeit he was part of the tournament two years earlier. Since that tournament in early 2018, his career has been halted due to injuries and he finally got an opportunity this IPL. KKR should be given a lot of credit for sticking around with the right-arm pacer despite him missing so much action. While he took only five wickets in nine innings this season, expect more from him once he has further game-time under his belt.
(Image Courtesy - BCCI)