emerging

Every team strives for young talents in a new calendar year. Team India looks for bowlers, as we have naturally talented batsmen but fall short in the bowling department; Pakistan search for batsmen, Australia hunt for perfection and Bangladesh look for sanity. 2016 was another enthralling year where cricketing arena witnessed newbies earning limelight and lesser known players rising in stature with added responsibilities. With the year coming to an end, here is a look at the players who impressed with ball, bat or in all departments and emerged as pivotal members for their respective sides.

India:

Jasprit Bumrah– India s death bowling miseries are well known. MS Dhoni has been searching for set of bowlers who can curb the run flow in a batsman-dominated era. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav have leaked plenty in the death overs or remained inconsistent. Nonetheless, during India s tour of Australia earlier in the year, Dhoni s young brigade breathed a sigh of relief with the emergence of a young bloke in form of Bumrah.

Bumrah s unorthodox action coupled with accurate yorkers came as a spring of surprise. Bumrah finished with 6 wickets in India s demolition in three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) and kept things tight from his end.

He was impressive in the Asia Cup T20 with 6 scalps and helped India lift the trophy for the sixth time. In ICC World T20, he stood the test of time in a crunch game versus Bangladesh and rattled T20 s biggest star Chris Gayle s stumps in the semi-finals. Bumrah picked up 28 and 17 wickets in T20s and 50-over games respectively to end the year on a high. He is also the No. 2 bowler in ICC T20 rankings, which is a testimony to his rise.

Hardik Pandya– No one has been able to match Yuvraj Singh s stature as all-rounder ever since the left-hander got axed. Nonetheless, apart from Bumrah, India also found an able ally in Pandya who can fit into the all-rounders slot. Pandya was the joint highest wicket-taker (along with Ashish Nehra) in WT20. His hard hitting skills came to everyone s notice with some blistering cameos versus Bangladesh (in WT20) and in the second match of the five-game ODI series versus New Zealand. The youngster is also an electrifying fielder and surely fits in India s scheme of things for future. He brings balance in the squad and enjoys team management s trust at present.

Jayant Yadav– There are butterflies in a player s stomach when he/she turns up for their debut match. Jayant seemed oblivious of these facts as he was right on the money in his debut Test series against England. Playing alongside stalwarts like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant created a niche for himself with his all-round show. He registered a solitary fifty and a ton featuring in only three games. He also scalped 9 wickets to play a key role in India s 4-0 thrashing over England. India s Test skipper, Virat Kohli was in awe of the youngster s ability to read match situations which keeps him in good stead for 2017.

Kedhar Jadhav– Jadhav did not make his debut in shorter formats in 2016 but emerged as a silent performer. In the five-match ODI series against New Zealand, Jadhav made most of the opportunity at his disposal. Dhoni has a habit of turning to his part-timers and did the same but never imagined the outcome to be so fruitful with Jadhav. He ended the series with 6 wickets and displayed a steady head with the willow with valuable scores of 41 and 39 not out in second and fifth ODI respectively. Jadhav exhibited that he can not only stay in the middle but also accelerate at a brisk rate. With Jadhav getting into the groove of a finisher, Dhoni must be a relieved man.

KL Rahul– India s opener made his debut in 2014-15 during India s tour down under. In the third innings, Rahul registered his maiden Test ton to make an instant mark. He followed it up with another ton in Sri Lanka (in 2015) but followed it up with some starts and strings of single digit scores. With competition heating in India s top-order, Rahul upped his game in 2016. Rahul showed first signs of accelerating in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 playing for his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli.

Rahul scored a majestic ton in his debut outing in ODIs versus Zimbabwe and followed it up with a sparkling T20 century against West Indies. He ended the year with a bang by registering his highest Test score of 199. Though Rahul missed out on a double ton, he improved leaps and bounds across formats and displayed knack of getting daddy hundreds.

Karun Nair– Nair got a look in India s squad on their tour to Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, he made the most of India s last international game (fifth Test versus England) by not only making history but also turning to be India s finest finds in 2016. Nair s unbeaten 303 earned him a mention alongside Virender Sehwag to become the second Indian to notch up a triple-ton in Test cricket. His innings displayed that India are in safe hands entering into the Kohl-era and contain players who can carry team s burden going ahead.

Here is India’s former swashbuckling opener and Twitter-star Sehwag wishing Nair after he joined the elite 300-run club:

Pakistan:

Sharjeel Khan– Sharjeel made his debut in 2013 but showed enough signs to become Pakistan s aggressive opener in 2016. With Sanath Jayasuriya s swag evident in his batting, the 27-year-old caught national selectors eyeballs. His cuts, pulls and aerial drives have managed to give some blazing starts to his side. His most cherished knock of 2016 is undoubtedly the 152 versus Ireland. His 47 off 26 versus New Zealand (in group stage of WT20) and half-century against England in a one-off T20 show his capability of providing blistering starts. He, along with Khalid Latif, have surely emerged as Pakistan s next-big-thing in the top-order.

Babar Azam– Sound technique, steady head and a knack of playing long innings; that s Babar for the cricketing fraternity. In his short stint, Babar has provided much needed stability to Pakistan s inconsistent batting line-up. Babar registered three consecutive tons against West Indies and earned a place in the Test squad. He has two fifties in the longer format and possesses a staggering strike-rate of 128.88 in T20s. This player is here to stay and has emerged out of nowhere to provide solidity to Pakistan s batting line-up. If you still not satisfied, have a look at this:

Imad Wasim– Imad made his debut in 2015 but shone as an all-rounder in 2016. England tour was the turning point for the 28-year-old as he piled up two half-centuries and contained runs at an impressive economy of 4.66. His 5 for 14 wreaked havoc of a lacklustre Irish batting line-up to rightly earn the tag of an all-rounder. His presence gives balance to the Men in Green who are trying to recover in shorter formats after languishing at No. 8 spot in ICC ODI rankings.

Sri Lanka:

Kusal Mendis– The land of Mendis and Pereras , Sri Lanka had a mixed year but will be satisfied with the emergence of some young stars. Kusal Mendis compiled runs at an average of 34.64 in Tests with his 176 setting the tone for his side s memorable whitewash against Australia. He got included in the ODI and T20I setup and made an instant mark. In 17 ODIs, the right-hander piled up 7 fifties at an average of 37.93 showing his understanding of all formats. He is already a vital cog at 21 and is thereby showcasing his mettle.

Dhananjaya de Silva– De Silva shone with the ball against the mighty Australians, opened the batting and ticked all boxes despite the workload on his inexperienced shoulders. Debuting in Tests and ODIs in 2016, he compiled two half-centuries and hundreds in whites. In 50-overs, de Silva brought up three scores in excess of 50 and averaged 34.12. Despite the hullabaloo, de Silva still needs to work on his bowling and inject more wicket-taking deliveries than being confined with economical spells. He is more than a handy customer for Sri Lanka and will look for another promising year ahead.

Lakshan Sandakan– The Chinaman bowler from the Island country shone in 2016 despite having only 4 appearances. Debuting in a three-Test series against Australia, Sandakan picked up 9 scalps at an economy rate of 2.88. His match figure of 7 for 107 was instrumental in Angelo Mathews and co. s whitewash over Australia. Sandakan even picked up two wickets in his solitary ODI appearance versus the same opponents. With Rangana Herath in the twilight of his career, his rise will be crucial for Sri Lanka.

Bangladesh:

Mehedi Hasan– If Mustafizur Rahman ruled the roost for Bangladesh in 2015, Mehedi was their most impressive talent with a successful debut series against England. In 2016 In just 4 innings, Mehedi s wicket tally reads 3 five-fors and one ten-wicket haul. He finished with 19 wickets against Alastair Cook s side and paved the way in levelling the two-Test series. Mehedi earned the Man of-the-Tournament in ICC U-19 World Cup and summed up 2016 by standing tall alongside Shakib Al Hasan in the national set-up. Something to be surely proud of!

Australia:

Peter Handscomb: A fifty in his maiden Test followed by a hundred in the second and another half-century in the third game, Handscomb has hogged limelight instantly in international circuit. Debuting in a phase when his national team was going through a tumultuous time, Handscomb instilled energy and contributed in his side s upward spiral at the fag end of the year. He is slightly unorthodox in his approach but puts a price on his wicket. He has emerged as a vital option in the middle-order. Under Steven Smith s captaincy, he will feel confident of moving in same direction in the upcoming cricketing season.

Travis Head– Head made his debut in ODIs versus West Indies. He contributed with steady knocks and earned a place for Sri Lanka tour. It was on this tour that Australia were acquainted with Head s calm and composed attitude while batting. He has been a hard hitter in Big Bash League (BBL) but displayed composed knocks on slow and spin-friendly tracks of the subcontinent. Head has 3 fifties to his name but more importantly has made it clear that he is more than just a clean hitter of the ball.

New Zealand:

Mitchell Santner– A team who believes in pushing-the-envelope no matter what the situation and conditions, Kiwis saw the rise of all-rounder, Santner. The left-hander exhibited astute presence of mind in all formats in his debut year in 2015. He continued his forward stride with 21 wickets (in Tests), 16 scalps (in ODIs) and taking his side to the final four of WT20 held in India. His overall stats cannot be termed as impressive but his evolution in the only ICC event of the year was appreciable. Santner finished with 10 dismissals with an astonishing average of 11.40 and economy rate of 6.27 in the mega event.

Tom Latham– The stylish left-hander ticked all the boxes by churning out runs against India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Pakistan. In 11 Tests, Latham struck 658 runs at 32.90 with 2 hundreds and 5 fifties. The most striking factor of Latham s surge was the purple patch he hit on a challenging India tour. Latham was effective against the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja in whites. He made strides in coloured clothings as well by amassing 457 runs at 38.08 with 1 fifty and 2 tons. His rise keeps New Zealand in safe hands headed into a new era post Brendon McCullum s retirement.

Colin de Grandhomme– Grandhomme made his shorter format debut in 2012 but played his first Test in November 2016. Making his debut against Pakistan, Grandhomme was eager to make the opportunity count by claiming 9 wickets at an average of 12.22 and economy rate of 2.16. He gave nothing away and wreaked havoc with a six-for in an innings. He also made a comeback in the ODI line-up by playing in the Chappell-Hadlee trophy 2016. The right-arm pacer surely rose to the occasion and with a handy all-round record in First-Class cricket, he will be in New Zealand s scheme of things for future.

South Africa:

Keshav Maharaj– Maharaj earned his Test cap during South Africa s tour of Australia. He was a silent performer in his side s 2-1 win as he chipped in with 4 wickets and did not leak easy runs. He was used judiciously by skipper Faf du Plessis and responded by showing match awareness and good understanding of the game. Proteas have struggled to find a spinner in Tests and if he does justice to his talent, he will continue to be a valuable asset for du Plessis and co.

Stephen Cook: South Africa also found an able opener in form of the right-hander. Cook debuted in January 2016 against England in whites. He has since then played 7 Tests and registered 2 fifties and 3 tons in his short career. Cook has a knack of shuffling around and possesses a sound technique as well. He has formed a good opening pair with Dean Elgar which provides stability to Proteas comprising of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and du Plessis in the middle-order.

West Indies:

Carlos Brathwaite– If there is any player who deserves to bag the Emerging Talent of 2016, it has to be the 28-year-old Caribbean. Brathwaite made his debut in shorter formats in 2011 but it was in 2016 that he did not put a wrong foot forward to emerge as a promising talent. Brathwaite played his first ICC event in WT20 and played a stellar knock under pressure to steer his side to their second title in the marquee event. His four sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over of the final announced him in big stage with enough swag. Later, he also became the skipper of West Indies T20 side and won his first match against India. He still has lots to deliver and is rightly being looked upon by the team management.

Here is the video depicting Brathwaite s nerves of steel to thrash England in the WT20 final. I bet you cannot get enough of this:

Roston Chase– Chase made his debut in the four-match Test series against India. A debutant always succeeds if the opposition is India and he lived upto the norm as well. He averaged 38 with the willow (including a high score of 137 not out) and earned 8 scalps, including a five-for. His all-round abilities came to everyone s notice as he got a look-in the three-Test series versus Pakistan. Though his second series was less fruitful, he should enjoy a long rope with the Caribbean Test team which is going through a transition phase.

Evin Lewis– In 5 ODIs and 4 T20s, Lewis came to the fore with 224 runs at 44.80. He notched up his maiden century in 50-overs against Sri Lanka. Nonetheless, he made news with a resounding T20 century in a high-scoring clash versus India in United States of America (USA). Blasting Stuart Binny for five consecutive maximums brought him into limelight and signaled the rise of yet another attacking opener from the Caribbean island.

England:

Haseeb Hammed– England had a forgettable tour of India but got a gifted player like Hameed in their stride. The 19-year old played his debut series in India and passed with flying colours. Hameed was at ease against a much disciplined pace battery including Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. He also displayed impeccable footwork against the duo of Ashwin-Jadeja. He played late, swept effectively and charged the spinners depicting his class as a batsman. In 3 Tests, Hameed got two fifties and averaged 43.80. His 59 not out, battling a finger injury, speaks volumes about his love for batting. He is being widely regarded as England s next big thing despite being only one series old.

Keaton Jennings– Jennings replaced Hameed in the last two Tests against India and joined the party. He scored 112 in his maiden innings and ended the series with a fifty in a losing cause. He played his part and gave the team management another option in England s erratic and often-shuffled opening slot. In short, Jennings and Hameed can make a solid opening pair for the England s forthcoming assignments post new year.

Jason Roy– After playing a vital role in England s transition in limited-overs, Roy again shone in coloured clothings in 2016. He featured in 17 ODIs and amassed 647 runs at 43.13 with 2 tons and equal number of half-centuries. In T20Is, Roy played some blinders including a 78-run knock off 50 balls to eliminate New Zealand in WT20 semi-finals. He continues to march forward in shorter formats and will be expected to play as an aggressive opener in ICC Champions Trophy 2017.

Here is a glimpse of Roy’s hard-hitting skills from England vs New Zealand WT20 semi-final clash at Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi.

Afghanistan:

Rashid Khan– Afghanistan have moved from strength to strength in world cricket amidst minimal fanfare. They were the only side to beat West Indies in WT20 and continued to challenge other low-lying sides. They have some quality players in form of Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stanikzai, but the side saw the rise of leg-spinner Rashid in the year gone by. He picked up wickets against all opponents and finished the year with 22 ODI scalps at an average of 19.50 and economy rate of 4. Rashid had an equally impressive run in T20s by claiming 23 wickets under 7 runs per over.

There were many such sparkling performances by debutants or less renounced players who kept us glued to the television sets in 2016. With ICC Champions Trophy, IPL 2017 and Ashes battle all set to resume in the upcoming cricketing calendar, one can only expect more talents to crop up and set the ball rolling.