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India’s NextGen stars: from run-machine Rudra to Arshin ‘Kallis’ Kulkarni

Last updated on 07 Dec 2023 | 09:07 AM
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India’s NextGen stars: from run-machine Rudra to Arshin ‘Kallis’ Kulkarni

We look at the Indian players who could potentially light up the U19 Asia Cup that starts on Friday (December 8th)

Rudra Mayur Patel 

Profile: Opening batter

A right-handed opening batter from Gujarat, Rudra Patel is arguably the most exciting prospect in the forthcoming edition of the U-19 Asia Cup. The 17-year-old represented India ‘B’ U19 in the Quadrangular series last month and tore the competition apart, smashing 568 runs in 7 innings at an average of 113.60 and strike rate of 122.41. In the entire tournament, the right-hander was dismissed under 50 just once.

Rudra’s showing in the U19 Quadrangular series came on the back of an astonishing Vinoo Mankad Trophy campaign in October, in which he finished as the second-highest run-getter, smashing 513 runs in 5 innings for Gujarat. There, the 17-year-old registered three consecutive tons and was one of two double-centurions in the 50-over competition as he plundered 232 against Himachal. 

Rudra has also captained Gujarat at the U16 level. Don’t be surprised if you hear and see this kid’s name a lot over the next few months.

Arshin Kulkarni 

Profile: Batting all-rounder (pace)

He bats at the top of the order. He bowls medium pace. And at the tender age of 18, he has already made his senior T20 debut for Maharashtra. 

Indeed, Arshin Kulkarni is the ‘real deal’ as far as prospects in this U19 Asia Cup are concerned.

A part of the Maharashtra side that won the Vinoo Mankad Trophy earlier this year, Arshin was Player of the Match in the final against Mumbai, smashing 105 opening the batting before also opening the bowling and removing opposition skipper Musheer Khan in the very first over of the chase. 

Last month, he was part of the India ‘A’ U19 side that won the Quadrangular series, where, again, he smashed a match-winning ton in the final before removing the opposition skipper with the ball.

Arshin played for the Eagle Nashik Titans in the Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) earlier this year and was one of two centurions in the T20 tournament. Despite playing only 3 games, he hit six more sixes (19) in the MPL than any other batter in a tournament which saw the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rahul Tripathi participate. 

Arshin’s impressive showing in the MPL earned him a debut in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Maharashtra, for whom he had a promising campaign, taking 4 wickets while also averaging 24.20 with a SR of 163.51.

The 18-year-old will be India’s trump card not just in the upcoming Asia Cup but also in the U19 World Cup in South Africa.

Aravelly Avanish

Profile: Hard-hitting wicket-keeper batter

A hard-hitting, explosive, left-handed wicket-keeper batter who bats in the middle-order, Aravelly Avanish, was in the spotlight for his extraordinary effort in a game in the Quadrangular series last month. Chasing 376, India ‘A’ U19 were reeling at 95/5, but Avanish, in what was a superhuman effort, smashed 163 off just 93 balls to take his side over the line. The incredible knock saw the left-hander smash 12 sixes. 

The 18-year-old, who hails from Hyderabad, has already built a reputation of being a destroyer in the middle-order: in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy this year, he smashed 274 runs in 6 innings at a strike rate of 148.10. It was the highest among batters who amassed 200+ runs in the competition. 

Avanish made his List A debut for Hyderabad last week. He is yet to find his feet at the senior level but rest assured, he will set the U19 Asia Cup alight with his power-hitting. 

Saumy Kumar Pandey

Profile: Left-arm spinner

A left-arm spinner who has an eerily similar action to Ravindra Jadeja, Saumy Kumar Pandey is another name that is bound to be in the headlines for the next few months.

Pandey finished as the highest wicket-taker in the Quadrangular series last month, but the 19-year-old has been ultra-consistent, delivering tournament after tournament. 

His 13 wickets @ 23.15 in the Quadrangular series came on the back of a super-impressive Vinoo Mankad Trophy, where he took 12 wickets at an average of 18.50 and economy of 3.89. He also had an excellent Cooch Behar Trophy last year, taking 25 wickets @ 23.72 a piece.

Don’t be surprised if he gets labelled the ‘next Jadeja’ pretty soon. 

Sachin Dhas

Profile: Middle-order batter

One of three players to score multiple tons in the recently concluded Quadrangular series, Sachin Dhas is another name to watch out for, on the batting front. Sachin played in the 2021 Vinoo Mankad Trophy as a 16-year-old and did not enjoy success, but righted his wrongs in the 2023 edition of the competition, this time around as an 18-year-old, finishing as the third-highest run-getter behind Rudra Patel. 

The right-hander, who was a part of the Maharashtra side that won the Vinoo Mankad Trophy a few months ago, bats in the middle-order and is likely to slot in at No.4 for India U19 in the forthcoming U19 Asia Cup.

Naman Tiwari

Profile: Left-arm seamer

No youth side is complete without an efficient left-arm seamer, and India have Uttar Pradesh’s Naman Tiwari to lead the side up-front with the ball in hand. 

A skiddy left-arm seamer who can make the ball move, Tiwari will enter the U19 Asia Cup in red-hot form, having obliterated batters in the Quadrangular series. There, despite playing only 4/7 matches, the 18-year-old finished the competition as the second-highest wicket-taker, having taken 12 wickets @ 15.58 a piece. In Shami-esque fashion, he ended the tournament, having taken at least 2 wickets in every game he played.

The 18-year-old did not play in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy but took 13 wickets in the Cooch Behar Trophy. However, more pertinently, he played in the 2023 edition of the Uttar Pradesh T20 League for Noida Super Kings, under the captaincy of Nitish Rana, where he took 9 wickets in the competition. The left-armer picked up a 3-fer in the competition against Gorakhpur Lions, where Dhruv Jurel was among his victims. (You can watch the video of the 3-fer here)

Expect the youngster to trouble batters a lot with the new ball come the Asia Cup.

Musheer Khan

Profile: Batting all-rounder (spin)

The brother of Sarfaraz Khan, Musheer Khan is arguably the most recognizable name in this Indian U19 squad, having already made his senior first-class debut for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy.

It’d be fair to say that, due to the talent he possesses and the experience he’s already garnered, the 18-year-old will be a prime contender for the Player of the Tournament award come the U19 Asia Cup.

Someone who can bat both up top and in the middle-order, Musheer has been on fire with the bat lately. He smashed 322 runs in the Quadrangular series but did so at an astonishing SR of 176.92. Walking in at 181/2 in the 35th over in the final, Musheer smashed a scarcely believable 47-ball 127* that saw him smash THIRTEEN SIXES! 

He led Mumbai in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy and enjoyed a great tournament with the bat there, too, amassing 438 runs at an average of 62.57 and SR of 109.22.

This alone makes for a good CV, but that’s not all. The 18-year-old also bowls left-arm spin and has been absolutely tearing it up with the ball at the age level. 

Musheer finished last month’s Quadrangular series as the joint second-highest wicket-taker with 12 wickets, and that came on the back of him ending the Vinoo Mankad Trophy as the outright highest wicket-taker, taking 22 wickets in 9 games at 16.68 a piece. 

READ: Musheer Khan: carving his own story beyond Sarfaraz's shadow

He might now be known as ‘Sarfaraz’s brother’ but if he continues growing at this rate, it won’t be long till Musheer makes a name for himself.

Other names to watch out for 

> Uday Saharan, who was a standby for the Indian side in the U19 World Cup in 2022, will be leading India in the upcoming U19 Asia Cup. He is a top-order batter likely to slot in at No.3. Uday led India 'A' U19 to the title in the Quadrangular series last month.

> Priyanshu Moliya, just 18, has already played 7 first-class matches for Baroda, having made his Ranji Trophy debut last year. He is a middle-order batter who also bowls off-spin.

> Innesh Mahajan, another left-handed wicket-keeper batter, had an outstanding Cooch Behar Trophy last year, smashing close to 600 runs at an average of 66.44.

> Raj Limbani, right-arm seamer, took 31 wickets @ 18.06 a piece in the last edition of the Cooch Behar Trophy.

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