We’ve already seen some predictably brilliant performances from some of the IPL’s biggest names with the likes of Virat Kohli, Rashid Khan and Jos Buttler making their mark. But here are some youngsters who have already left their own signature on the tournament.
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Rinku Singh, Kolkata Knight Riders
In years to come a good IPL quiz question could be: who is the only player in the history of the IPL to have hit five consecutive sixes off the last five balls of the match to win a game?
The answer is Rinku Singh.
Against Gujarat the little middle order left hander hit 48 off 21 including six sixes, the last five of which got his side to a crucial win and broke Titan’s hearts. The defending champions were left stunned by his ferocious hitting under such pressure with poor Yash Dawal the bowler who was smashed around the park.
Singh had already showed glimpses of brilliance last year but has really come into his own this season. That was no isolated knock. After making just four in his first match, he then hit 46 against RCB batting first to post a big 204/7, which KKR defended easily.
And after that match-winnings against Gujarat, he also put on a gutsy 58 not out off 31 to give his side a big chance of yet another unlikely win on Friday. As it happens, none of those knocks was enough for him to top-score for his side yet. Yet.
TIP Rinku Singh, however, has been available at big odds of around 8.00 and 9.00 to top score for KKR in a match and it’s surely only a matter of time before he does.
Sai Sudharsan, Gujarat Titans
If at 25, Singh is just about on the border of still being a ‘youngster, then at 21 Sudharsan really is a case of new blood. He didn’t get much of a chance at Gujarat last year, but he has found his home in the side batting at number three – after Kane Williamson got injured in the first game and will now miss the whole tournament, causing a reshuffle to their batting line-up.
Sudharsan has made scores of 22, 62, 53 (in the very same match that Singh won the day) and 19.
A small man who combines good timing, shot innovation and smart running, he’s the sort to anchor an innings rather than finishing it off with big hits. And it’s a role that seems to suit him.
TIP If Gujarat Titans are to defend their title at odds of 5.00, you’d expect Sudharsan to make a few more big contributions.
Ravi Bishnoi, Lucknow Super Giants
With the bulk of this year’s impressive youngsters generally being batsmen, the honour of featuring as a bowler is left to Ravi Bishnoi.
The 22-year old legbreak bowler was snapped up by LSG ahead of last season from Punjab, the Lucknow management realising that a young spinner with good variations of pace and length could be a huge asset for years to come at the franchise.
He had a good first season for them, taking 13 wickets in 14 matches at a decent economy rate, which led to him since playing 10 times for India in T20Is.
And he’s looking in good form so far this campaign, too. He’s taken six wickets in four games so far and has improved on his economy rate, which is now down to just 7.12, one of the best in the league.
LSG also have the benefit of him being able to bowl at any stage. They’ve used him both in the powerplay overs and also in the middle overs so he gives skipper KL Rahul plenty of options.
TIP At 5.00, Lucknow are the same odds as Gujarat to win the IPL and it would be no surprise if those two ended up making the final.
Harry Brook, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Sometimes a player comes around who you just know is special. And 24-year old Brook is very much that sort of player.
He had already made a big impact in Test matches for England with fast scoring and a cool head, particularly against Pakistan. And he was part of the England team that won the T20 World Cup.
A huge pay check followed when he was bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad ahead of the 2023 season but things didn’t get off to the best possible start. His first three scores were just 13, 3 and 13 as he struggled to adjust to Indian conditions and the fast pace of the IPL.
But SRH persisted with him at the top of the order and he more than justified that with a brilliant 100 not out against KKR on Friday.
He played the ball to all parts of the ground, combining power and immaculate timing with expert placement to help SRH post, and defend a big total. They’re now two from four and looking much better. If Brook can continue in this vein of form, they could go very far.
TIP Harry Brook has got some way to go to catch up Orange Cap holder Shikhar Dhawan, while the likes of Virat Kohli and David Warner have plenty of runs as well. But at odds of around 22.0, Brook still has a chance of contending for the Orange Cap. Another big score and those big odds will be gone.
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