The Indian Premier League has made several careers. One of the objectives of the IPL was to find new cricketers and provide a continuous stream to the Indian cricket team. How can one forget Kolkata Knight Riders' Venkatesh Iyer, whose outstanding form in IPL 2021 won him a spot in the Indian white-ball squad? Deepak Hooda, Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel will all thank IPL for their new-found stature as national players.
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IPL 2022 has already unearthed a couple of youngsters – batsman Ayush Badoni of Lucknow Super Giants and fast bowler Akash Deep of Royal Challengers Bangalore. This edition of the IPL could see many new players getting their first break and then building their dream careers.
Pratham Singh is a rare combination of brain and brawn. The 29-year-old from Delhi turns out for Indian Railways, is a BTech in electronics and communication and is enrolled in a top Indian business school in Hyderabad. Yet, cricket is his first love and this could be his big year if the Kolkata Knight Riders team management gives him a break.
END OF A WAIT
Pratham Singh is not new to the IPL ecosystem. He was part of Gujarat Lions in 2017 but never played a game. Like Badoni, who waited for three years to get a break, Pratham was picked up by KRR in the IPL auction 2022 in February. It was a moment of joy for the Singh family which has stood behind their son’s love for cricket, in spite of a career beckoning beyond the cricket field.
KKR’s mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy is a classic case of a young man who shunned a career as an architect and is living his dream as a star in IPL. Pratham, a left-handed batsman, wants to strike it big for KKR.
For Pratham, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy has been his playground. His game suits the limited overs format and in 2019, when he smashed four successive fifties in Mushtaq Ali, Pratham was expecting that some IPL scout will spot him. But it’s been a long waiting game.
Cricket tests your patience. The advantage of good education and quality family upbringing has taught Pratham to put his head down and wait for his chance. After a successful 2019 season, Pratham carried on his good work in the 2020-21 Mushtaq Ali season. He scored 299 runs with the help of a hundred and two fifties. His average of 75.75 finally caught KKR’s eye and he was roped in.
For now, it’s Mission Cricket for Pratham. His father, Sudhir Singh, works as a Civil Engineer with the New Delhi Municipal Corporation, and says: “We are waiting to see our son play in IPL. He is super excited and enjoying every bit of his stay with the KKR squad. Like him, we are keeping our fingers crossed. We are really not thinking of money and stardom. First, he needs to prove his cricket skills to the world.”
Pratham, who was bought for his base price of INR 20 lakh, says just being with top international players is a big opportunity already. “If I get to play for KKR, it’s a bonus. But I am seeing how big players prepare and when I bat in the nets against some of the top bowlers in T20 cricket, you feel humble,” said Pratham.
Here are some newbies to watch out for in IPL 2022:
Rajyavardhan Hangargekar (Chennai Super Kings, INR 1.50 crore)
The U-19 star is a rare Indian talent who can bowl at a speed of over 140 kmph alongside performing as a match finisher. While bowling is his forte, Hangargekar can also play big shots quite easily. He was a key member in U-19 World Cup winning Indian team this year. However, his entry in CSK’s playing XI heavily relies on the performance of domestic fast bowler Tushar Deshpande.
Mukesh Choudhary (CSK, INR 20 lakh)
The left-arm pacer plays for Maharashtra in domestic circuit and has been one of the consistent performers for the side in the past two years. He has the ability to swing and seam the ball. Mukesh Choudhary registered the most number wickets for Maharashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22. Given the likes of Rajyavardhan Hangargekar and KM Asif are already warming the benches for CSK, Mukesh’s chances of making it to the playing XI seem tough.
Yash Dayal (Gujarat Titans, INR 3.20 crore)
Yash Dayal is a left-arm pacer from Uttar Pradesh. Yash was 8th on the list of highest wicket-takers (14 scalps from 7 matches) in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22. What impressed more than his wickets was his economy rate of 3.77 in the tournament. Dayal bowls at a speed of around 140 kmph and also gets swing. It will be interesting to see how the 24-year-old fares if given a chance in IPL 2022.
Subhranshu Senapati (CSK, INR 20 lakh)
Subhranshu Senapati is a good package as he is a prolific run-scorer, a dependable bowler and a good fielder. He was the leading run-scorer for Odisha in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22. Currently undergoing some minor changes in CSK camp to improve his batting, the 25-year-old can also be an asset to the four-time champions.
Yash Dhull (Delhi Capitals, INR 50 lakh)
Besides leading India to the U-19 World Cup title in West Indies this year, Yash Dhull registered identical scores of 113 in both the innings of his Ranji Trophy debut playing for Delhi. No doubt he has come into IPL 2022 in his best form. The right-handed player is a technically sound batsman and can bowl spins too. However, Delhi Capitals have a packed batting line-up and he may find it hard to get a chance.
Tilak Varma (Mumbai Indians, INR 1.7 crore)
The 19-year-old Tilak Varma, who was part of India’s U-19 World Cup winning team in West Indies this year, started his IPL career on a positive note with a 22 off 15 balls. He is a confident batsman and can also bowl off-spin. His good height is just another plus for him. The talented player is in the right hands as Mumbai Indians is a side that invests heavily in nourishing young talents.
Raj Angad Bawa (Punjab Kings, INR 2 crore)
The 19-year-old Raj Angad Bawa was the highest run-scorer for India in the 2022 U-19 World Cup. He is also the highest individual scorer from the nation in a single innings of U-19 World Cup. He bats left-handed and also bowls left-arm medium pace, this makes him rare of the rarest talents in India.
Ayush Badoni (Lucknow Super Giants, INR 20 lakh)
The right-handed batter is not too big a player in physical appearance but his performance just overshadows everything. Ayush Badoni is a confident and powerful hitter of the cricket ball. The batsman from Delhi hit a fifty on his IPL debut followed by a crucial 19 not out to guide LSG to their maiden IPL win. More than his runs it was his courage and the range of shots that impressed everyone.
Abhinav Manohar (Gujarat Titans, INR 2.6 crore)
Another batsman who shone in his maiden IPL game this season is Abhinav Manohar. The pinch hitter scored 15 off 7 balls, including two boundaries in a nail-biting last over against Lucknow Super Giants to prove his worth in the team. He has a reputation of being a destructive batter, especially in death overs, and would like to come true in the same way.