From left to right: Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Anmolpreet Singh, Rajneesh Gurbani, Shubman Gill and Kamlesh Nagarkoti © Getty Images
From left to right: Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Anmolpreet Singh, Rajneesh Gurbani, Shubman Gill and Kamlesh Nagarkoti © Getty Images

Virat Kohli was 19 when he was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the inaugural IPL. Investment in young players pay off, don’t they? The Indian Premier League, as the name suggests, is more about Indian players. You may have the influx of national and international stars but teams that have gone on to make big in this league have thrived on domestic players. They are assets to every IPL franchise.

With a lot of experience of playing all around India, they know the grounds well. Also, they do not mark themselves in bigger slabs, which permit the teams to go for multiple options. Again, there is no bar on how many domestic players one team can play but on overseas players. As the IPL 2018 auctions approach, here are some of the lesser-known top domestic performers who can attract the franchises for a rally of bids for them.

Batsmen

Mayank Agarwal: With 1160 runs in Ranji Trophy from 8 matches, Agarwal will surely be among the most wanted batsmen up for grab. Agarwal scored a triple-century in this edition along with five centuries and two half-centuries at over 105. He had an impressive strike rate of 68.80 in the tournament. In List-A cricket he holds a strike rate of 96.26 while in domestic T20s, that is 130.55.

He has scored 86 and 55 from the five matches he has played so far in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2017-18. Having played for RCB, Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiant, Agarwal is not new to this arena.

Anmolpreet Singh: Anmolpreet made his debut Ranji season a special one, amassing 753 runs, becoming the fourth highest run-getter of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 season. His journey of five matches included two double-hundreds, shooting his average up to a whopping 125.50 at a strike rate of 81.93.

He has not fired in the ongoing T20 tournament but he is a talent not to be missed.

Prashant Chopra: The 25-year-olf Himachal Pradesh batsman had a sublime First-Class season with 581 runs from five matches, averaging 58.10 striking at 84.94. He was the first batsman to slam a triple ton this season. Another point to notice in his performance is his Syed Mushtaq Ali form. He has already has an unbeaten 99 and a 52 from six matches.

Sreevats Goswami: Goswami’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy form has left everyone in awe and might as well land him with an IPL contract. Goswami scored 232 runs at an average of 77.33 and strike rate of 148.71, his best effort being an unbeaten 82 off 57 deliveries. Goswami, as a teenager in 2008, had played for RCB in the inaugural edition.

From the Under-19 brigade

Prithvi Shaw: He just reached the age where he can obtain a driving license. He is not old enough to visit a pub. The baby-faced Shaw was termed the ‘next Sachin’ even before he entered the teens. The Mumbai opener has had a rollicking start to his First-Class career, slamming a hundred on debut and averaging over 56 from 9 matches.

Shaw is currently busy leading India Under-19 at the World Cup and has hit back-to-back half-centuries , comfortably looking the best batsman in the tournament.

Shubman Gill: Another swashbuckling batsman from the young band of boys, Gill played only two First-Class matches this season, scoring a 63 and a 129 in them, making his First-Class average 61.25 at a strike-rate of 81.39. However, it is his performance in the Under-19 World that looks even more attractive as he has also scored, like his captain, back-to-back half-centuries. He also has a century as Bristol against England Under-19.

Bowlers:

Rajneesh Gurbani: The obvious name to make the top of this list had to be that of Gurbani. Gurbani scripted Vidarbha’s maiden Ranji Trophy title win with his 12 wickets in semi-final and 8 in final. Gurbani holds a First-Class average of 19.28.

Akshay Wakhare: Another Vidarbha contribution to the list and it is Akshay Wakhare, the off-spinner. Spinner will definitely play a major role in IPL, given the matches will be played in Indian conditions and the bidders will surely be interested in the fourth highest wicket-taker of Ranji Trophy. He has also been consistent in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Diwesh Pathania: With 28 wickets from 6 matches, Diwesh Pathania was surely one of Services’ best performers in Ranji Trophy 2017-18. However, he bettered his game ahead of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and is currently the highest wicket-taker of the competitions. The pacer has played five matches in the Indian T20 league and has registered 3-fors in three of them.

Ravikumar Thakur: Vidarbha rightly identified Thakur as a limited-overs specialist and he was omitted from their Ranji-Trophy squad. However, while picked for Syed Mushtaq Ali, he emerged as the highest wicket-taker with 11 wickets from 5 matches, including two 3-fors and a 4-for.

The Under-19 boys

Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti: If something has impressed the most in the Under-19 World Cup in India’s performance is the performance of the pace duo of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti. Probably more so because it came as a surprise. Mavi has a controlled pace while Nagarkoti can blast the speed gun, making the in-form duo a definite choice for the franchise owners.

All-rounders: the rare breed

Aditya Sarwate: A bowling all-rounder, Sarwate bagged 29 wickets in Ranji Trophy this season including a 7-wicket-haul and an 8-wicket-haul. He has added decent contributions down the order and can be a good option in IPL.

Abhishek Sharma: Another from the Under-19 team, Abhishek’s 8-ball 23 in the opening match of World Cup was a brief yet attractive knock. He also bagged a wicket in the same match. Abhishek did not get much scope after that match to bat but bagged a couple of wickets in India’s win against Zimbabwe.