IPL 2013: 5 rising stars who have impressed in the first month

The promising youngsters: (From left) Sanju Samson from Rajasthan Royals, Mohit Sharma and Chris Morris from Chennai Super Kings and David Miller from Kings XI Punjab © IANS

By Jaideep Vaidya

We’re done with the first month of what has been another action-packed and dramatic sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). While some of the performers have been the usual suspects, like Chris Gayle, Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina, there have been others who are playing for the first time and have surprised one and all with their displays.

Here is a pick of five new who have created a stir in the tournament:

Sanju Samson (Rajasthan Royals):

Sanju Samson has played just three games for the Rajasthan Royals so far in IPL 6. However, he has left his mark on all three of them, with his delightful display of cricketing strokes. All of 18 years of age, Samson garners hopes of captaining India’s Under-19 team, and looking at how he has performed in the domestic circuit (he plays for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy) and IPL, the day wouldn’t be too far.

In his first game for the Royals, young Samson came in at No 6 and hit the winning runs as his team chased a lowly 124. Samson was unbeaten on 27 at the end and helped calm a few nerves after Rahul Dravid, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge fell in quick succession. He combined with Ajinkya Rahane for a 45-run stand and got the Royals home by giving himself room to leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and thwacking him over cover for four.

That particular shot was to become Murali Kartik‘s nightmare in the next game Samson played. With a little more power from the diminutive batsman, the slow left-armer was lifted over extra cover for two consecutive sixes as Samson went on to hit a match-winning 63 off 41 balls that helped his team easily chase down 173.

Even though Samson’s next outing, against the Kolkata Knight Riders, came in a losing cause, his solid and composed 40 off 36 balls at No 4 buoyed the Royals out of trouble after two quick wickets early on and again at halfway stage of the innings had begged to derail them. There were shades of his illustrious and elegant skipper, Rahul Dravid, in the shots he played. The flick off the pads was like watching a young Dravid impress one and all at Lord’s in 1996.

Samson’s innings may not have come for India, more so in the purest format of the game, but the impression the young lad has left gives Indian cricket tremendous hope for the future.

Mohit Sharma (Chennai Super Kings):

Mohit Mahipal Sharma was pretty much an unknown commodity in India prior to the start of the tournament, even though he was the fifth-highest wicket-taker in the last season of the Ranji Trophy. The 24-year-old played just eight matches for Haryana, but those were enough for him to bag eight wickets and be picked by the Chennai Super Kings as one of the uncapped players for IPL 6.

Since coming into the star-studded CSK side, Mohit has carved a niche for himself as a genuine wicket-taking bowler, particularly effective in the opening overs of the game. Mohit has 11 victims to his name in eight matches, including ones like David Warner, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. This includes two three-fors — against Delhi Daredevils and Pune Warriors — and a two-for.

The first thing you will observe watching Mohit bowl is his accuracy. A modestly tall (5’11”) bowler, he has a clean action and relies on his outswinger (to the right-hander) for taking wickets. He is also a clever customer, ready to tweak his plans according to the conditions. Even though CSK’s illustrious batting line-up has stolen the show in the tournament, Mohit’s hard-work is certainly one of the reasons for their success.

Chris Morris (Chennai Super Kings):

Another brilliant find by the scouts of the two-time IPL champions is 26-year-old South African all-rounder Chris Morris. Bought in the auction for USD 650,000 Morris had famously said that he had “never seen so much money”. However, after his exploits in IPL 6, he is sure to get used to it.

Morris is a genuinely quick and gangly fast bowler who constantly clocks 140kmph and hits the deck hard. He has a knack of breaking partnerships and is an outstanding athlete as well. His lower-order abilities with the bat make him a handy all-rounder for CSK, although he hasn’t got a chance to showcase this trait due to their already proficient batting line-up.

Morris has picked up 11 wickets in 10 matches for the Super Kings and has cemented his place as one of the four foreign players in the team, which isn’t an easy thing to do, especially in Chennai. One wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up among the highest wicket-takers by the end of the tournament.
David Miller (Kings XI Punjab):

The Kings XI Punjab have unearthed a gem in young David Miller, who has made a reputation of being one of the best finishers on display in the tournament. An explosive middle-order batsman, the left-hander’s see-ball-hit-ball style is perfectly tailored for the Twenty20 format.

Miller blazed his way to a match-winning 80 off just 41 balls in his second game of the season. KXIP were chasing a daunting 185 for victory against Pune and none of their batsmen had scored a fifty prior to the match. Along with Mandeep Singh, Miller got that tally up to two as they shared a 128-run partnership that was good enough to take Punjab home.

Punjab were 58 for three when Miller walked in ahead of David Hussey. At the time, it would have seemed an foolish move, with Hussey perhaps being the only Punjab batsman in good form. But Miller proved his doubters wrong with a swashbuckling innings and won the match with a huge six over long-on. He was to follow it up with yet another match-winning innings of 34 against Delhi Daredevils after Punjab were on the brink of a collapse chasing 120.

Later, against the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, Miller’s timely half-centuries almost got Punjab home, but his efforts were to be undone by hard luck coupled with poor batting from the rest. With 251 runs from six matches, Miller boasts of one of the highest averages in IPL 6 and KXIP will have him to thank if they make it to the playoffs.

Karan Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad):

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s quirky leg-spinner Karan Sharma makes this list due to his ability to contain the runs in the middle overs. The 25-year-old, who plays for the Railways in the Ranji Trophy, may not be high on the wickets column, but he has the lowest economy rate (5.71) in the tournament for bowlers who have bowled more than 15 overs.

Karan has a peculiar bowling action — a brisk walk to the crease followed by something he does with his arms that is too fast to catch by the naked eye. Watching him roll his arms over, you’d think he was a fast bowler. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he’s been so effective; the batsmen must be taking sometime to figure out what’s going on with his action.

Be as it may, Karan has all but made his spot permanent in the Hyderabad eleven and has been at the back end of their impressive bowling attack this season.

(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog – The Mullygrubber )