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IPL 2014: Top 10 Indian youngsters to watch out for

From left: Manpreet Juneja, Baba Aparajith and Kuldeep Yadav are some of the youngsters who are expected to make a mark in IPL 2014 © IANS & Getty Images
From left: Manpreet Juneja, Baba Aparajith and Kuldeep Yadav are some of the youngsters who are expected to make a mark in IPL 2014 © IANS & Getty Images

After a relatively quiet build-up, the 2014 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to kick off today. Shiamak Unwalla takes a look at some exciting young Indian talent to look out for in the upcoming weeks.

It’s that time of the year again. Cricket weds Bollywood in the one-and-a-half month-long celebration of quintessential Indian entertainment. Only this time, there are no cheerleaders. Jokes aside, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a launch-pad for quite a few of Indian cricket’s brightest prospects like Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. It also helped little-known cricketers like Manish Pandey, Karn Sharma and Sanju Samson become household names.

With that in mind, here’s our pick of the 10 upcoming cricketers who we think have a chance to make a mark in this edition of the IPL.

1. Kuldeep Yadav

Team: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

Age: 19

Role: Bowler

Batting Style: Left-handed

Bowling Style: Left-arm chinaman

One of the most endearing images of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014, was watching Kuldeep Yadav outfox batsman after batsman with his loopy leg-breaks. Unlike the conventional leg-spinners, however, Kuldeep bowls left-handed. He has been hailed by many as someone who has a very realistic chance of playing for India. With a delightfully mean googly and his fair share of variations, Kuldeep is someone who can partner Sunil Narine to form a potentially fearsome duo of mystery spinners. His one drawback is a lack of control, but leg-spin has always been a tough art to master.

2. Deepak Hooda

Team: Rajasthan Royals (RR)

Age: 18

Role: All-rounder

Batting Style: Right-handed

Bowling Style: Right-arm off-break

Another member of India’s 2014 Under-19 World Cup squad, Deepak Hooda grabbed the limelight with a five-wicket haul against the Pakistan Under-19s. Some consistent performances with the bat meant that Hooda finished as one of India’s leading run-scorers of the tournament. His accurate off-breaks and handy lower-order batting ought to be an asset to his side. Being a part of a team that has traditionally given youngsters an opportunity to grow will only help his chances of making an impact in the IPL.

3. Rahul Tewatia

Team: Rajasthan Royals

Age: 20

Role: All-rounder

Batting Style: Left-handed

Bowling Style: Left-arm orthodox

Very little is known about this all-rounder from Haryana beyond the fact that Rahul Dravid saw something in him that others have not. According to a DNA report, Dravid felt Rahul Tewatia was as talented as Amit Mishra and good enough to bat in the top four. Is he an ace up Rajasthan’s sleeve, or is this his lone shining moment? Only time will tell.

Vijay Zol's batting form in the domestic circuit has been impressive. RCB will be hoping he continues that in IPL 7 © Getty Images
Vijay Zol’s batting form in the domestic circuit has been impressive. RCB will be hoping he continues that in IPL 7 © Getty Images

4. Vijay Zol

Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

Age: 19

Role: Batsman

Batting Style: Left-handed

The captain of India’s Under-19 team, Vijay Zol had a rather insipid tournament with the bat. However, for someone who once made 451 runs off 467 deliveries in an Under-19 match for Maharashtra, one lean patch can be overlooked. His obvious class was on display when he made a 153-ball 110 on First-Class debut for India A against the visiting New Zealand A side. He has since gone on to score an unbeaten double hundred in Ranji Trophy cricket. In a team with relatively few Indian batsmen, Zol has a chance to sparkle.

5. Harshal Patel

Team: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

Age: 23

Role: Bowler

Batting Style: Right-handed

Bowling Style: Right-arm medium-fast

Unlike some of the others on this list, Harshal Patel played a number of games for the RCB in the 2012 edition of the IPL, where he was very impressive with his accuracy and swing. A terrific fielder, Patel won the best catch award four times. His record in domestic cricket is outstanding, with 76 First-Class wickets in just 21 games. He once took eight-wicket hauls in two successive games for Haryana. He did not get to play a game in IPL 2013, but with the RCB bowling looking a bit threadbare this year, it could be an ideal opportunity for Harshal to shine.

Jasprit Bumrah looks like a good option for Mumbai Indians © PTI
Jasprit Bumrah looks like a good option for Mumbai Indians © PTI

6. Jasprit Bumrah

Team: Mumbai Indians (MI)

Age: 20

Role: Bowler

Batting Style: Right-handed

Bowling Style: Right-arm medium-fast

 

This young pacer from Gujarat bowls with a rather strange action. Unlike most pace bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah’s arm stays straight at the elbow at all times from his run-up till his follow-through. Behind this slightly odd action, however, is some nagging accuracy. He had an impressive debut last year for MI against RCB, where he finished with figures of three for 32. He has since had a couple of solid seasons with Gujarat and looks like a good option for MI to open their season with.

7. Manan Vohra

Team: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)

Age: 20

Role: Batsman

Batting Style: Right-handed

The only Indian player to be retained by KXIP, Manan Vohra played a couple of sparkling cameos for them in IPL 2013. He made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2011, but even there he was unable to play a big innings, until he hit a match-winning 187 against Jharkhand. Yuvraj Singh was among a number of experts to hail Vohra as a batsman for the future. The KXIP management certainly have faith in him. It remains to be seen how he responds to it.

8. Baba Aparajith

Team: Chennai Super Kings (CSK)

Age: 19

Role: All-rounder

Batting Style: Right-handed

Bowling Style: Right-arm off-break

A member of Unmukt Chand’s victorious Under-19 World Cup-winning team, this Tamil Nadu player is built in very much the same mould as Ravichandran Ashwin. Both are quiet, hardworking cricketers who focus on every aspect of their game. Even their bowling actions are similar. The difference between them is that Baba Aparajith is more of a batsman than a bowler. Though he had an impressive season with the bat this year for Tamil Nadu, his bowling failed to live up to the promise he showed in his Under-19 days for India. That being said, MS Dhoni’s preference for part-time off-spinners might mean that Aparajith could have some bowling to do this IPL if he gets an extended run.

9. Lokesh Rahul

Team: Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)

Age: 21

Role: Wicketkeeper/Batsman

Batting Style: Right-handed

The Karnataka opener was the second-highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy 2014 with 1,033 runs at an average of almost 69. A steady, accumulative batsman, Lokesh Rahul would be an ideal foil for the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Darren Sammy in an explosive SRH line-up.

10. Manpreet Juneja

Team: Sunrisers Hyderabad

Age: 23

Role: Batsman

Batting Style: Right-handed

After a dream run in the 2013 domestic season, Manpreet Juneja was touted as a batsman to look forward to in the near future. A brilliant 201 not out on debut batting at No 6 was followed by an equally important 193 for India A against the visiting New Zealand A side. A 50-ball 108 not out against Kerala in the 2013 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy showed his ability in the shortest format. However, things have not gone well for the Gujarat batsman since then. He had a mediocre IPL with the Delhi Daredevils last year and was dropped midway through the 2014 Ranji Trophy season due to poor form. Juneja will be looking to make amends and put a forgettable season behind him and come up with some good performances for Hyderabad.

Click here for IPL 2014 Schedule: Match time table for IPL 7

Click here for IPL 2014 Schedule & Results

Click here for IPL 2014 complete coverage

(Shiamak Unwalla is a correspondent with Cricket Country. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

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