“It was our endeavor to focus on uncapped players this year, as we always seek a level playing field,” stated Rajiv Shukla, the Chairman of the Indian Premier League.
From young guns like Shubman Gill (KKR), ShivamMavi (KKR), Prithvi Shaw (DD), the relatively-unknown Krishnappa Gowtham (RR) and Mayank Markande (MI), to the proven likes of Nitish Rana (KKR) and Ishan Kishan (MI), the bidding wars in late January this year made one thing clear – apart from international bigwigs and Team India heavyweights, teams were interested (and willing to invest heavily) in uncapped players with special skills. What’s more, franchises like Rajasthan Royals went a step ahead and shelled out a bomb on raw overseas names like Jofra Archer and D’Arcy Short – men who have little to no international experience.
We have already witnessed flashes of brilliance from several uncapped players this IPL:
- Krishnappa Gowtham’s match-winning knock of 33* off 11
- Ankit Rajpoot’s impressive five-wicket haul against SRH
- Mayank Markande’s bamboozling leggies (he is the current Purple Cap holder)
- Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan’s promising partnerships for MI
- Jofra Archer’s game-changing spell of fast bowling
However, we have picked 3 uncapped players who have consistently performed in the first half of the IPL and are expected to only get better from here.
Krunal Pandya (Mumbai Indians)
Hardik’s elder brother, the canny left-arm orthodox bowler and effective middle-order batsman, is one of the few players who have performed consistently for MI this season. With a massive bidding war breaking out between RR, RCB and SRH, Krunal’s price went from a mere Rs. 40 lakhs to a whopping Rs. 8.8 crores before MI used their right-to-match (RTM) card to win him back.
And while the going has been tough for the defending champions so far, Krunal has managed to string together a few scores (striking at 141.25). With the ball, he has been even more effective, picking up 5 wickets (striking at 15.0) at an average of 17.66 and a miserly economy of 7.06.
The next few games will make it clear whether or not the Mumbai Indians will have any chances of making the playoffs and Rohit and Co. will be banking on Krunal’s form to turn the tide for the team.
With Hardik already breaking into all three formats of the game at the international level, it is a golden opportunity for Krunal to impress the national selectors with his all-round abilities.
Deepak Chahar (Chennai Super Kings)
Manpreet Gony, Mohit Sharma, Joginder Sharma, Sudeep Tyagi, Ishwar Pandey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger – when it comes to CSK, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has always shown an affinity towards men who can make the new ball talk. His latest infatuation is with Deepak Chahar – a new-ball bowler who swings it both ways with excellent control.
With 19 wickets in the coveted Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (including a fantastic five-wicket haul against Karnataka), Deepak has fought a long list of injuries to develop his game. This season, he has opened the bowling for CSK with a great deal of accuracy and maturity, skittling outtop-order batsmen. Case in point: Chahar’s 3/15 against SRH on 22nd April, which included a first-over wicket-maiden.
When you see him bowl with the new ball, you can understand why Dhoni and Stephen Fleming speak so highly of him. And CSK have used him rather well – bowling him out in the power play when there is a hint of movement through the air.
Six wickets in six games (average – 22.33, strike rate – 17.0, economy – 7.88) may not sound outstanding, but he makes our list because of his lion-hearted efforts and potential to prove his mettle in the second half of the tournament.
Siddharth Kaul (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Despite taking 16 wickets in 10 games at an average of 18.75 last season, several people were surprised when VVS Laxman, Tom Moody and Co. decided to retain Siddharth Kaul for the 2018 edition.
At Rs. 3.8 crores, Sid Kaul is proving to be worth every penny this season as he (along with Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma and Billy Stanlake) has delivered in almost all games so far.
Averaging 21.88 with the ball and fourth on the list of highest wicket-takers, the boy with the orange headband has picked up 9 wickets in his 28 overs at a remarkable economy of 7.03 and strike rate of 18.6.
It is interesting to note that SRH hasn’t missed Bhuvi’s services because bowlers like Kaul have stood up and made their presence felt.
Having added an extra yard of pace over the last two years and a super-effective knuckleball, ‘Zippy Kaul’ (as PommyMbangwa likes to call him) will be a key member of the SRH attack in the games to come – especially if he keeps putting up substantial performances like his 3/23 vs MI earlier this week.
So next time when you are watching IPL live matches on television or on your favorite sports streaming app, keep an eye on something special from these three uncapped players – we are placing our bets on Pandya, Chahar and Kaul. What are your top picks? Let us know in the Comments section below!