The IPL is always a good occasion to try and spot exciting new talent. Over the years, a number of young cricketers – chiefly Indian, because overseas recruits are typically leading players – have made a mark at the Indian Twenty20 league, even going on to do well internationally.
Ahead of the 2018 edition, the 11th, here’s a look at the youngsters their teams will expect big things from.
Sandeep Lamichhane (Delhi Daredevils)
Nepal became the latest team to earn ODI status following their eighth-place finish at the World Cup qualifiers, and one of their standout stars was a young man who has been making waves. Lamichhane, the 17-year-old ever-smiling leg-spinner, picked up 13 wickets in the qualifiers, but he had come into prominence even before that, when Michael Clarke liked what he saw at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz in 2016.
Not only was Clarke impressed, he spoke glowingly about the youngster too, and Lamichhane went on to impress at the 2016 Under 19 World Cup, picking up 14 wickets. Lamichhane has since been picked up by Delhi Daredevils for the IPL and St Kitts & Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League.
If he gets a go, despite the presence of the likes of Shahbaz Nadeem and Jayant Yadav, Lamichhane will have a chance to prove he is more than just a promising cricketer from a small cricketing nation.
Lungi Ngidi (Chennai Super Kings)
Lungi Ngidi is just 22, he is fast and has a knack for picking up wickets, as 14 strikes in three Tests suggests. Viewers of international cricket have only seen him in whites, but he does have 43 wickets from 39 T20 matches with impressive numbers: An average of 19.41, a strike rate of 16, and economy of 7.23.
He has the skills, clearly, and Chennai are very excited to have him in their ranks, and he should play a role despite the presence of a host of big-name all-rounders – Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson – as well as a bowling unit headlined by Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Mark Wood and Karn Sharma.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Kings XI Punjab)
As if having the experience of Mohammad Nabi and the brilliance of Rashid Khan in their ranks wasn’t enough, Afghanistan have discovered another outstanding spinner in the 17-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who is tagged ‘off-spinner’ but bowls a wide range of deliveries.
Punjab have in their ranks excellent spin options in Ravichandran Ashwin, the captain, and Axar Patel, but Mujeeb could well get in depending on the team’s plans – Ashwin is well aware of the ability he possesses, especially with the new ball in the Powerplay overs, a valuable skill. Mujeeb is the rising star of Afghan cricket, and a starring role in the IPL after the heroics at the World Cup qualifiers could well take him to the next step on the ladder.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti (Kolkata Knight Riders)
If an 18-year-old paceman can consistently touch 140kph and be up for long spells, he automatically becomes a captain’s delight. While long spells won’t be required from Nagarkoti – one of the stars of India’s 2018 Under 19 World Cup title run – in the IPL, his pace is likely to come in handy. His ability to keep things tight – he picked up nine wickets at the World Cup with an economy rate of 3.48 – can also be crucial to his team’s chances.
He is more than just pace, though, and can mix it up nicely, score quick runs lower down the batting order and is a rarity in that he is a fast bowler who likes fielding at point and does a great job at it. At Kolkata, who have lost the services of Mitchell Starc through injury, Nagarkoti – and his partner from the World Cup, Shivam Mavi – could well have a bigger role to play than earlier anticipated.
Krunal Pandya (Mumbai Indians)
Some people think he is a better all-round package than Hardik Pandya, his brother who has become India’s premier fast-bowling all-rounder. Krunal, no spring chicken at 27, is a late bloomer who made his T20 debut only in 2013. Mumbai had already spotted him and taken him on at a high price for an uncapped cricketer – Rs 2 crore – and he has delivered for them in spades.
He is an aggressive left-handed lower middle-order batsman and bowls tight left-arm spin, mostly firing the ball in at the stumps. Over two seasons with Mumbai, he has slammed 480 runs from 20 innings at a strike rate of 158.41 to go with 16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.15. He starred in the final of the 2017 edition with a 38-ball 47 as the team won the title for the third time. Another good season could well open the doors for national selection for him.
Jofra Archer (Rajasthan Royals)
The 23-year-old Bajan with ambitions of qualifying to play for England is a quick paceman and big-hitting lower-order batsman. He has been one of the most exciting new faces in the English county circuit in recent times.
Archer made his debut in all three formats for Sussex in 2016 and made an immediate impression and has since gone on to return good numbers with Hobart Hurricanes in the Australian Big Bash League. Rajasthan were clearly keeping track and have added him to their ranks. If fit, Archer has the ability to have a big impact in the tournament.
Sarfaraz Khan (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Over two seasons, the 20-year-old Sarfaraz has scored just 177 runs at a strike rate of 173.52 in 12 innings for Bangalore, but Virat Kohli and the rest of the team management were impressed enough to retain him as one of three players prior to the 2018 edition, the other two being the captain himself and AB de Villiers.
The promise has always been evident: At 12, he scored 439 in an innings in a school tournament, then 211 runs in six games at the 2014 Under 19 World Cup and 355 runs in the 2016 edition of the Under 19 World Cup. He is certain to get his chances in the 2018 IPL and it’s up to him to grab them and move up to the next level.
Siddarth Kaul (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
Kaul is 27 and has played over a decade of first-class cricket, picking up 182 wickets from 52 matches. Signs of early promise were evident at the 2008 Under 19 World Cup when he picked up 10 wickets as India won the title. A series of injuries, however, kept him out of the game for long stretches after that, but he has done well in the IPL, displaying a knack for picking up early wickets.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (26) was the standout bowler for Hyderabad in the 2017 edition, but Kaul wasn’t too far behind, picking up 16 wickets in 10 games at an acceptable economy rate of 8.41. These numbers were good enough for Hyderabad to shell out good money for his services again this time.