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Five youngsters to watch out for in IPL 2021

Last updated on 08 Apr 2021 | 02:41 PM
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Five youngsters to watch out for in IPL 2021

A look at five uncapped cricketers who are likely to make their IPL debut this season

The inscription in Sanskrit on the Indian Premier League trophy means, “where talent meets opportunity”. Over the years, the league has justified the message proving to be a premier breeding ground for the Indian national team. The upcoming 2021 edition is no different. We look at five such uncapped players who are all set to feature in this year’s IPL with an air of excitement hovering around them.

Shahrukh Khan

The hard-hitting batsman from Tamil Nadu forced everyone to sit up and take notice during the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The 25-year-old got a chance to bat only four times in eight encounters but played a huge role for Tamil Nadu, who won the title for the second time. Six feet and four inches tall, Shahrukh displayed his brute force in the quarter-final against Himachal Pradesh. Chasing 136, Tamil Nadu were reduced to 66/5 but the powerful right-hander whacked five fours and two sixes in his 19-ball 40* to help his team emerge victorious with more than two overs to spare. He ended with the best strike rate in the tournament - 220 (minimum 30 balls faced).

Punjab Kings were in desperate need of a swashbuckling finisher and then went all guns blazing for Shahrukh in the 2021 auction. He was eventually bought for a whopping INR 5.25 crore. Shahrukh, who was a prodigy in the Chennai cricketing circles, has been around for quite some time now but has transformed into a different beast altogether in the last couple of years. He was also brilliant in the 2020-21 Vijay Hazare Trophy, smashing three fifties. Punjab don't have a fearsome Indian finisher and that would give Shahrukh a long rope to showcase his skills.  

Chetan Sakariya

Coming from a humble background, the left-arm seamer had to work as a salesman in his uncle’s bookstall to fund his cricket training, while his father was an auto-driver in Vartej, a small town 10 kilometers away from Bhavnagar in Gujarat. His parents wanted him to be a government officer but Sakariya got support from his uncle and continued playing cricket. Sakariya made his debut for Saurashtra in 2018 and played a massive role in their maiden Ranji Trophy title win last year. The 23-year-old had a superb SMAT 2020-21, picking up 12 wickets in five games at an economy of just 4.9.

Initially, Sakariya used to rely on swing, but has now worked on his fitness and variations to become an outstanding white-ball bowler. He got an opportunity to enhance his skills at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai and was also a net bowler for Royal Challengers Bangalore last season. However, it was Rajasthan Royals who acquired him in the auction for INR 1.2 crore. Jofra Archer didn't get much support from Jaydev Unadkat and other Indian bowlers last season, and if that happens again, Sakariya could certainly make his IPL debut.      

Lukman Meriwala

The 29-year-old from Baroda finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The left-arm fast bowler scalped 15 wickets at a strike rate of 12.2 and an economy rate of 6.52. However, he couldn't propel Baroda to their third SMAT title, as they lost to Tamil Nadu in the final. Baroda last won the SMAT in 2013/14 and it was Meriwala who emerged as the leading wicket-taker that season. He is a genuine wicket-taker and could even surprise batsmen with his pace and bounce. Meriwala, who used to cut and weld metal back in 2006, comes from Sarnar - a village in Bharuch district of Gujarat. Having worked closely with Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel, Meriwala has a pretty good record in the shortest format of the game.  

He was picked up by Delhi Capitals at his base price of 20 lakh and this stint will give him a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav. Meriwala is not very young but an opportunity to play under head coach Ricky Ponting and bowling coach James Hopes will do him a lot of good. Delhi have a plethora of pacers in their squad and Meriwala will have to put in the hard yards in practice sessions, something that he has done throughout his life, in order to impress the team management and get some game time in IPL 2021.

Mohammed Azharuddeen

The wicketkeeper-batsman from Kerala took the cricketing world by storm when he smashed the second-fastest century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy against Mumbai in January 2021. He reached the landmark in 37 balls and ended with a score of 137* off 54 deliveries, studded with 11 maximums and nine fours. The 27-year-old hit 214 runs in five innings at an average of 53.50 and a strike rate of 194.54. The right-hander is an impact player and was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for his base price of 20 lakh.

"He's one of those high-impact players in the tournament who can take the pressure off other players. He’s an exciting prospect, a very good keeper as well. He gives us another option apart from ABD," said RCB's director of cricket operations Mike Hesson. S Bharat is the only other Indian wicketkeeper in the RCB squad and Azharuddeen could very well make his IPL debut in the tournament opener against Mumbai Indians.

Marco Jansen

Mumbai Indians were "tracking Marco for the last two years" and got them at his base price (20 lakh) in the auction. All of six feet and eight inches, Jansen is a left-arm pacer from South Africa who could also hit the long ball. He came into the limelight after he along with his brother Duan, also a left-arm seamer, impressed Virat Kohli during a net session at Wanderers in 2018. Jansen was just 17 back then and since then has played all forms of cricket at the domestic level.

Jansen is quite lean for his height but could generate good pace and bounce on any surface. The 20-year-old has toured India in 2019 with South Africa A, and was recently called up as back-up for South Africa's Test squad in Pakistan. Not many people know about Jansen but if a franchise like Mumbai have picked him in their squad, people would be eager to watch him in action. 

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