Even in unprecedented COVID times, with multiple question marks over the future of live sports, the Indian cricket board, the BCCI, has put together this year’s IPL, albeit on foreign shores.
With the 13th edition of the cricketing extravaganza set to commence from September 19 in the United Arab Emirates, the fans are looking forward to the world’s most popular franchise based cricket league.
The players meanwhile are leaving no stone unturned in the tune-up to the competition, after being denied action for over five months. With over two weeks of training in the bio-secure bubbles, players are all gearing up to deliver a spectacular show.
Take a look at the players, who are all set to make their IPL debuts this year:
Yashasvi Jaiswal (India & Rajasthan Royals)
Bought for whopping Rs 2.4 crore at the IPL auction last year, teenage sensation Yashasvi Jaiswal will be in the spotlight when he takes the field for Rajasthan Royals in the upcoming tournament. The Man of the Tournament in the ICC U-19 cricket World Cup in January-February 2020 in South Africa, Jaiswal was the talk of the town after he accumulated 400 runs in just 6 matches at an incredible average of over 133 in the tournament.
Although Jaiswal could not take India to the title, on the personal front he grabbed all the eye-balls with his stupendous performances at the World Cup. The 18 year old Jaiswal might have played just a single first-class match and 13 List A matches so far, but the swashbuckling left-hander, with his dynamic ball-hitting abilities, will be an option that the Royals will be tempted to field in the XI straightaway. The youngest cricketer in the world to smash a List A double century (in the (Vijay Hazare Trophy), Jaiswal might just be the top order batsman that the Royals need in their mission to pull off an encore of their 2008 title success.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (India & Chennai Super Kings)
One of the 13 CSK members who tested positive for coronavirus in the Chennai Super Kings camp, Ruturaj Gaikwad had a bumpy start to his maiden IPL journey. The 23 year old top order batsmen, who might not be available for the initial round of matches, will look to make a strong case for himself whenever he returns to the field. In the absence of Suresh Raina, Gaikwad will perhaps serve as the perfect choice for MS Dhoni at the top of the order.
Once praised as a ‘sharp cricket mind’ by Dhoni himself, Gaikwad has been among consistent run-getters for his state Maharashtra. In List A cricket Gaikwad has a very good record in the 54 matches he has played so far, scoring 2499 runs, at an average of 49 and a highest score of 187*. He averages almost 34 in T20s. The Maharashtra lad was bought for Rs 20 lakhs at the IPL auction in 2019 by CSK.
Ravi Bishnoi (India & Kings XI Punjab)
Another rising Indian sensation Ravi Bishnoi is all set to make his IPL debut this year, representing Kings XI Punjab. What Yashasvi Jaiswal did in the batting department at the ICC U-19 cricket World Cup earlier this year, Bishnoi did the same with his leg-spin and unplayable googlies in the bowling department. Knowing the skills that Bishnoi possesses, Punjab didn’t mind spending Rs 2 crore on him at the last player auction in December 2019 and the youngster during the U-19 World Cup after that proved why he was a big talking among the franchises at the auctions in 2019.
With 17 wickets in 6 matches at an average of just over 10, Bishnoi was unplayable for the opposition boys in the World Cup and the 20-year-old will now look to replicate the same magic on the biggest stage in T20 franchise cricket. With the likes of Mujeeb ur Rehman, Krishnappa Gowtham and Murugan Ashwin already in the Punjab spin department, the Kings XI management will certainly have a selection dilemma on their hands during their journey this time, but Bishnoi’s inclusion in the squad will be a happy headache for them in terms of selection options.
Alex Carey (Australia & Delhi Capitals)
Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey too will be among the debutants in the IPL this year. The 29-year-old, who is currently playing for Australia against England in the limited-over series is set to join the Delhi Capitals after wrapping up his national duties. Carey, who has been a consistent run-getter in Australia’s Big Bash League, last year had a great outing in the World Cup, where his 375 runs in 10 matches for Australia must have made IPL franchises sit up and take notice. Though Carey doesn’t have a great T20 international record. He has played 30 T20 internationals so far and scored 176 runs.
After a lengthy bidding process, Carey was roped in by DC for Rs 2.4 crore in the auction. An attacking left-hander who usually bats in the middle order might straightaway come into the playing XI to strengthen the middle order. It will be interesting to see if Delhi Capitals continue to use Rishabh Pant as a keeper or give the gloves to Carey or bring in the Aussie as a specialist batsman. Although it is still unclear whether Carey will straightaway be able to join the team, as there are still question marks over whether there will be a mandatory the quarantine period for English and Aussie cricketers, despite them travelling from one bio secure bubble in the UK to another in the UAE.
Sheldon Cottrell (West Indies & Kings XI Punjab)
An aggressive left-arm pacer with a wicket-taking celebration that has taken the cricketing world by a storm, Sheldon Cottrell will be the latest addition from the Caribbean islands into the IPL this year, when he dons the Kings XI Punjab hat. The Jamaican has been an integral part of the West Indies’ limited-overs setup in the last couple of years and has impressed a lot of pundits when it comes to the shortest format.
Cottrell, however did not have the outing he expected in the recently concluded Carribean Premier League,where he just managed 5 wickets in 7 matches and his franchise St Kitts and Nevis Patriots finished last in the competition. But the 30-year-old will look to improve his performance in the upcoming IPL. Having arrived in the UAE last Sunday, Cottrell will look to get in the mix after the quarantine period and then take the IPL by storm. One advantage that Cottrell and his other CPL mates have is the match practice that the players have had ahead of the IPL. Cottrell was bought by Kings XI Punjab for an astonishing Rs 8.50 crores.
Ali Khan (USA & Kolkata Knight Riders)
All set to become the first player ever from the United States of America to play in the IPL, Ali Khan joined the Kolkata Knight Riders camp last Sunday for the upcoming season. Ali has been roped in by KKR as a replacement for English pacer Harry Gurney, who opted out of the tournament to have surgery related to a shoulder injury. Ali, a medium pacer was part of the Trinbago Knight Riders squad, who recently clinched their fourth CPL title. Ali during his recent stint in the CPL picked up eight wickets from as many matches at an economy rate of 7.43.
The 29-year-old American first made headlines during the 2018 Global T20 Canada, where he was spotted by star West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who brought him to the CPL. KKR also tried to rope him in, last season but couldn’t work out a deal. The right arm fast bowler, since bursting onto the scene in 2018 has been a consistent performer, who is equipped with bowling accurate line and lengths at over 140 km/hr. Ali’s inclusion will give KKR more depth in the pace department and the IPL experience will certainly work wonders for the American, who is set to get a taste of cricket at the highest franchise T20 level.