10 Unknown Players to Watch Out For
With a number of experienced international stars, young exciting talents and T20 specialists, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is known for providing a platform to every cricketer who plies his trade in the cash-rich league.
The global audience and the high level of competition on offer is capable of pressurising even the most successful player, but the ability to break the shackles and pitch in with consistent match-winning displays allows him to create his own niche. Over the years, we have seen a number of players do well in the IPL and gain an entry into their national side.
Cricketers like Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Hardik Pandya are now regulars in the Indian senior side, and with each season of the tournament throwing up new prospect, all eyeballs will be towards the IPL auctions for the 2019 season, which will be held in Jaipur later this month.
With a number of cricketers likely to leave the event mid-way to prepare for the World Cup next year, franchises might be tempted to buy athletes who are not in the reckoning for a spot in the World Cup team.
We list players who have not yet played in the IPL, but who could well turn out in the league in 2019.
1. Shimron Hetmyer (West Indies)
The West Indian caught the attention of the Indian audience with his performances in the ODI series against India in October. After scoring a hundred in the first ODI, Hetmyer smashed 94 off 64 deliveries in the second game with 7 massive sixes, which went a long way in helping the Windies tie the game with India.
He ended the ODI series with 259 runs at an average of 51.80 and a strike-rate of 140!
Hetmyer was devastating in the Caribbean Premier League as well earlier this year. 440 runs in 12 innings with a strike-rate of 148.15 and an average of 40 turned quite a few heads. With the ability to smash the spinners all over the park, the 21-year-old could be caught in a bidding war in the auctions this month.
2. Fawad Ahmed (Australia)
The Australian leg-spinner is a T20 veteran, having made his Big Bash League debut in 2013 for Melbourne Renegades. He has been impressive in his 52 T20 outings since then, and though he only has 57 wickets to show for it, his economy rate of 6.78 and his bowling average of 22.50 reflects his capability of stalling the flow of runs - an important aspect in the format.
Ahmed has had a phenomenal 2018, where he has picked up 29 T20 wickets at an unbelievable average of 14.79. If the tournament is held in the low and slow tracks of UAE or India in 2019, the 36-year-old could wreak havoc and hence, could be one of the most underrated players next season.
3. Nicholas Pooran (West Indies)
The 23-year-old keeper had set the Caribbean Premier League on fire this season, smashing 267 runs for Barbados Tridents in 10 games at a strike-rate of 144.32.
His performance earned him a ticket on Windies’ tour of India and he left his mark in the T20I series, scoring 53 runs off just 25 balls in the last game at Chennai. The player hardly looked in trouble against the spinners and took a special liking to Bhuvneshwar Kumar as he romped his way to four boundaries and four sixes.
In the recently-concluded T10 league, Pooran was the standout performer and finished as the highest run-scorer. Playing for the Northern Warriors, the West Indian amassed 324 runs in 9 innings at a staggering strike-rate of 245.45! With the ability to smash sixes from the first ball and with fine temperament as well, Pooran could be an asset for any IPL side.
4. Shivam Dubey (India)
The Mumbai star was in the news recently after he earned high praise from Sunil Gavaskar, who believed that the youngster would be on the list of every franchise for IPL 2019. Dubey, who has been impressive in First-Class cricket with a tally of 442 runs and 17 wickets in only 4 games.
He has a strike-rate of 147.65 in 13 T20s thus far and has scalped 10 wickets as well at an average of 26.30. He has proven that he can be counted upon in all formats of the sport.
The Mumbai player had smashed experienced bowler Pravin Tambe for five sixes in an over in a T20 game earlier this year, and has been the lone warrior in a struggling Mumbai side in the Ranji Trophy this season. With franchises like Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore eager to find an Indian all-rounder, Dubey could be caught in a bidding war.
5. Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)
The Afghanistan cricketer is well-known for his big-hitting skills, but he is yet to win an IPL contract.
The keeper-batsman already has 1,936 T20I runs from 65 games at a strike-rate of 134.81 which includes a ton, but what could force franchises to go after him was his recent exploits in the T10 league last month.
Turning out for the Rajputs in his first T10 game, Shahzad hammered away at every delivery that came his way as he raced away to 74 runs in just 16 deliveries with six boundaries and eight sixes at a phenomenal average of 462.50!
Set a target of 95 to win, Shahzad and Brendon McCullum chased down the score in just 24 deliveries, and after this feat, IPL franchises will be on their toes to procure his services.
6. Fabian Allen (West Indies)
The youngster has just played 8 T20 games, but he has impressed with both bat and ball. The spin bowling all-rounder played for the St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the CPL this year but was a late inclusion and hence played only 3 games. However, he struck 119 runs in the three matches with a strike-rate of 188.
His best performance in the CPL was when he steadied the innings for his side in a game against Barbados Tridents after St. Kitts had lost 5 early wickets. He struck 64 in just 34 deliveries and can be a handy option with the ball as well.
Teams like Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad that are struggling to find a lower-middle order player who could smash some crucial sixes might bid heavily for the 23-year-old.
7. Sam Curran (England)
The 20-year-old grabbed attention in the Test series against India when he constantly tilted the game in favour of his team with both bat and ball. The Englishman , who made his Test debut against Pakistan in May this year has impressed in his 7 Tests, scoring runs at an average of 36.72 and picking 14 wickets at 25.14.
He has shown his worth in T20s as well, hitting a 50 while batting at no. 8 as well as picking up 42 wickets in 42 T20 matches at an average of under 29. Exhibiting impressive temperament and having the skills to remain calm under pressure, the younger Curran is likely to attract huge bids in the upcoming auctions.
8. Varun Chakravarthy (India)
With the success of mystery spinners in the IPL, Varun Chakravarthy is yet another spinner who could be a force to reckon with. His rise in the Indian domestic scene has been impressive as he captured the attention of the state selectors with an economical spell in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, bowling at an economy rate of just 4.7 in 10 games.
His good showing ensured a spot in List-A games for Tamil Nadu soon after. He justified his selection with a scalp of 22 wickets from nine matches. Sides like RCB and Rajasthan Royals will be eager to hire his services as they have struggled with a bowler who could keep things tight at one end in 2018.
9. Sherfane Rutherford (West Indies)
The 20-year-old made a name for himself after he struck 45 runs off just 13 balls in a CPL match whilst playing for his team Guyana Amazon Warriors. The player came in at no. 6 or 7 throughout the series and finished with 171 runs in seven innings.
Rutherford would be in the radar of sides who are looking for a big-hitter down the order and teams like Delhi Capitals or Kings XI Punjab could go after him. He can also pitch in with the ball.
10. Hardus Viljoen (South Africa)
The unknown South African pacer was in fiery form in the T10 league, picking up 18 wickets in 9 games. The tall fast-bowler is known for his brutal bouncers and for his variations which makes run-scoring against him difficult. In 87 T20s Viljoen has bowled at an average of 24.75, picking up 98 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 7.81.
The bowler is also a fine-hitter of the ball and is known for some match-winning cameos. He has a strike-rate of 120.51 with the bat and teams like Kolkata Knight Riders, who have released most of their fast bowlers, could be eager to have him on board.
(Sarah Waris, a postgraduate in English Literature, has taken on the tough task of limiting the mystic world of cricket to a few hundred words. She spends her hours gorging on food and blabbering nineteen to the dozen while awaiting the next Indian sporting triumph)
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