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Kumar Kushagra, Delhi Capitals' swashbuckling batter

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Last updated on 19 Dec 2023 | 01:15 PM
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Kumar Kushagra, Delhi Capitals' swashbuckling batter

The wicketkeeper batter from Jharkhand bagged his first IPL contract with Delhi Capitals

Kumar Kushagra was 3 years old when the first ball was bowled in the Indian Premier League (IPL) history. Now, in what would be his maiden appearance in the IPL, Kushagra has bagged a signing amount 36 times his base price from Delhi Capitals. 

A 19-year-old wicketkeeper batter from Jharkhand, Kushagra has modest numbers in T20 cricket, averaging only 15.6 at a strike rate of 117.6. However, Kushagra has made plenty of noise in List A cricket. 

In the 2022 Vijay Hazare Trophy and the 2023 Doedhar Trophy combined, Kushagra mustered 502 runs at an average and strike rate of 72.8 and 96.9 respectively. He scored six fifties, including 98 off 87 balls against North Zone. After walking in to bat at 57/5, Kushagra belted eight fours and four sixes in a 235-run stand with Riyan Parag.

A few days later, the 19-year-old forged a 150-run stand with Parag, playing a pivotal part in carrying East Zone from 57/5 to 307/5 at the point of his dismissal. He scored 53 off 47 balls in that partnership and was a key member of East Zone’s run to the final. 

Parag, the top scorer of that tournament, praised Kushagra in a conversation with “He’s (Kumar Kushagra) a confident young guy, he’s just 18, and he plays damn mature,” he said. 

“The thing is that I have been through this man, I have had people tell me exact things. Abhi jaake tu Insta kholege na, yeh log jo bhi bolte hain, ekdum nahi sunne ka (I know you will now go to Instagram but don’t listen to any of the opinions). You get that engagement, you don’t let these people enter your mind. It is a long road ahead, and I keep telling him that too,” Parag spoke about Kushagra’s caliber. 

Born in Bokaro, the youngster also has a double hundred in first-class cricket. He smoked 266 against Nagaland off only 269 deliveries in his only hundred in red-ball cricket as yet. The innings made him the youngest batter to notch up an individual score of 250 in first-class cricket. 

Kushagra’s ongoing domestic season has not been as prolific. He averaged 32.8 in the 2023 Vijay  Hazare Trophy and only 22.2 in the most recent season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. 

However, Kushagra is a tailor-made player for Delhi, a franchise in need of Indian wicketkeepers as well as lower-order batters who can finish the innings at number six or seven. All of Kushagra’s high points in his brief career thus far have came batting at six and seven. 

It was Chennai Super Kings that began the bidding for Kushagra and was competed by Gujarat Titans. Once CSK pulled out, Delhi defeated Gujarat to sign this Jharkhand cricketer at INR 7.2 crore. 

Cover image credits: PTI

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