Five young players to watch out for in 2017 IPL

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Five young players to watch out for in 2017 IPL

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SportsCafe Desk

03/21/2017

The IPL has always a reputation of throwing some surprise packages into the limelight since its inception. While in the past, some selections had raised eyebrows for more reasons than one, some cricketers have used the mega stage as a perfect platform to carve a distinct niche for themselves.

As the IPL is about to get underway in just two weeks time, we look at five young players who can make a mark on the tournament and set themselves for bigger opportunities in the future.  

Rashid Khan:

The precocious Afghanistan leg-spinner fetched the highest ever bid for an Associate player in the 2017 IPL auction when he was purchased by the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise for a lump-sum amount of INR 4 crores. 

Despite not being a great turner of the ball, what has worked the most for the 19-year old is his ability to put batsmen under constant pressure by bowling quicker through the air, while maintaining a stump-to-stump line. His accurate googly is another weapon, with which he unsettled the Ireland team in the recently concluded T20 series and even picked up five wickets in just nine balls to end with a record match figure of 5 for 3. 

Rashid, who has also been drafted into the Guyana Amazon Warriors’ squad for the Caribbean Premier League 2017, is surely going to catch a lot of eyeballs during the IPL. Despite Sunrisers having a potent combination of spin and pace bowlers in their ranks, a leg-spinner is always worth gold in T20s. So, watch out for him as Sunrisers set to get their campaign underway against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural match on April 5.

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Rishabh Pant:

Delhi Daredevils' opener Rishabh Pant had caught the eye of the Indian national selectors with a path-breaking Ranji Trophy season, in which he scored a staggering 972 runs at an average of 81 for Delhi. His unbelievable strike rate of 107.28 only added to his already great resume. 

People stood up and took notice of the youngster, and the big moment came for the southpaw when the selection committee chaired by MSK Prasad selected him for the T20I series against England. In the third match at Bangalore, Pant got a chance to make his senior international debut.

While he has already set himself as the heir-apparent to the colossal throne of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, this IPL has brought with it a chance for him to raise the bar, even higher. He has to shrug off his failure in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he could manage only 160 runs from six innings. Moreover, with the big-hitting ability that he has, he can certainly set the world on fire again.

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Mohammed Siraj:

Mohammed Siraj has had a very good domestic season claiming 41 wickets in the Ranji Trophy this year and not surprisingly, he was snapped up by Sunrisers Hyderabad, the defending champions and also his home team.

Usually calm and composed Siraj had helped Hyderabad advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in five years, with his sublime performances with the ball. He also picked up 16 wickets in 10 games at an average of 17.18 and an economy rate of 7.05 at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

For Siraj, like so many others, the IPL opportunity could be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. However, he needs to cash in on the opportunity and we hope the 23-year-old is one to watch out for. 

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Kuldeep Yadav:

The Uttar Pradesh chinaman-bowler rose to prominence during the 2014 edition of the Under-19 World Cup by becoming India's leading wicket-taker in the tournament. During the tournament, he also became the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Under-19 World Cup history. 

For all his mastery in bowling left-arm wrist spin that isn’t anywhere near the norm even in international cricket, Yadav was spotted by former India left-arm spinner Rahul Sanghvi and awarded an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract in 2012 by Mumbai Indians (MI), at the age of just 17 and then moved to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2014. 

Although he is yet to get sufficient chances in IPL, he has played for India A and has been a regular traveling member of the Indian Test team. While he is a fringe player in the national side now, it remains to be seen if he gets enough chances amidst the presence of Brad Hogg, Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, and Piyush Chawla in the KKR set-up.

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Sarfaraz Khan

He is a wunderkind. When a stocky, muscular boy lit up the Chinnaswamy crowd during IPL 2015, little did anyone realize that the guy was still only 17 years old, Sarfaraz was India’s biggest individual success at the ICC Under-19 World Cup, where they lost the final to West Indies by five wickets. He was also the second highest run-getter in the tournament with 355 runs in six matches at an average of 71. 

He made the entire Chinnaswamy go gaga over him when he came out of the colossal shadows of his illustrious seniors - Virat Kohli, AB de’ Villiers, Shane Watson, and Chris Gayle. This time, he needs to live up to his own lofty reputation and that makes him one of the finest prospects to watch out for in this edition. 

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