IPL Young cover
From left: Umran Malik, Tilak Varma and Abhishek Sharma are three of the several youngsters who have produced scintillating displays in IPL 2022. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The rise of young talents have been one of the features of IPL 2022. Here’s look at the stars of the future and their displays in Season 15.

The young and the brave who are lighting up IPL

Shyam A. Krishna, Senior Associate Editor

The Indian Premier League has become a nursery for cricketers. It’s a magnet for talent since every aspiring Indian cricketer dreams of playing in the world’s best and richest Twenty20 league. Lucrative contracts are a major lure. Not just that, the league provides youngsters opportunities to test their mettle against the best and even learn from them. A win-win, really.

A win it was for Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel, whose IPL performances catapulted them to the Indian team. In the past 14 IPL seasons, many more found stardom on the strength of their sterling shows. Sanju Samson, Devdutt Padikkal, Navdeep Saini, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ravi Bishnoi have represented the country but are yet to cement their places. The IPL continues to showcase their talent, keeping their chances alive.

It’s is simple. If you can cut it in the IPL, you are good enough to make the Indian team and take on the world. Because the IPL is a cauldron, the heat of competition is so intense that it takes skill, temperament and grit for cricketers to survive and perform at their best. That’s helped the IPL offer a steady stream of talents to Team India.

Two World Cup hopefuls

More are in the pipeline. Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh have earned plenty of praise from cricket pundits, who think the two should be on the flight to Australia for the Twenty20 World Cup. They could well be plying their trade Down Under in October.

Malik and Arshdeep are just the two of a new brigade of youngsters who have served notice with some rousing performances in Season 15, which concludes on May 29. The brave batting of Tilak Varma and Ayush Badoni was the talking point initially. When 55 of the 70 league games were completed, Vaibhav Arora, Kuldeep Sen, Yash Dayal, Hrithik Shokeen, Kumar Kartikeya Singh, Malik and Arshdeep have provided ample evidence of their talent.

Arshdeep Singh
Arshdeep Singh of the Punjab Kings in action during the Tata Indian Premier League 2022. Some experts think Arshdeep can make the India World Cup squad. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The hottest talent of IPL 2022 has been Malik, whose raw pace is an absolute delight in a country that craves for genuine fast bowlers. Bowling consistently over 150kph, the Srinagar lad has had the best batters hopping. The 22-year-old is captain Kane Williamson’s favourite weapon as he frequently bailed out the Sunrisers Hyderbad with a clump of wickets in the middle overs.

Malik’s rise to prominence is a fairytale. Hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, home to Sunrisers’s regular Abdul Samad, Malik was drafted as a net bowler on Samad’s recommendation last season. Malik impressed everyone with his fiery pace during practice sessions so much that the Sunrisers offered him a contract and a place in the playing XI when T. Natarajan was injured.

IPL Rising Stars - 1
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

The Sunrisers Hyderabad didn’t make the playoffs, but Malik’s express deliveries remained the talk of Indian cricket. One of the four players retained by the Sunrisers ahead of the mega auction, Malik is repaying their faith with wickets.

One of the players to take down Malik was Gaikwad. But then, he’s no longer an emerging talent, having powered the Chennai Super Kings to the title last year. That resplendent form deserted this year, but the young man from Pune has regained his touch, and Chennai are buzzing again after a wretched start.

The Mumbai Indians are worse off, having lost their first nine games. But the silver lining has been the discovery of Tilak Varma. At 19, the Hyderabad left-hander has shouldered the Mumbai batting burden so well that he’s seen as an investment for the future. Varma is blessed with timing and power and is equally adept at playing spin and pace. If he continues to perform in this vein, Varma could be an Indian prospect.

Another prospect is Ayush Badoni, 22, who impressed with his cool head and shots all around the wicket in the early games for the Lucknow Super Giants. Lucknow’s mentor Gautam Gambhir has been credited with unearthing the talent of Badoni, whose tall scores have tailed off, but he sure is one to watch.

Two late-blooming talents

Keep your eyes peeled for Kuldeep Sen too. He’s part of the Rajasthan Royals, who are enjoying one of their better years this season after putting together a balanced side. Sen engineered one of their wins, conceding only seven in the last over of the game against Lucknow’s Marcus Stoinis — a deadly finisher.

Since that heart-stopping over, the 25-year-old pace bowler from Madhya Pradesh has been a regular in the Royals’ line-up. That’s a no mean feat, considering the bowling strength of the side led by Samson.

Bowling depth is not the strong suit of the Punjab Kings, where Arshdeep’s miserly spells have kept them afloat. The 23-year-old left-hander is no fast bowler, but his accuracy and mix of slower ones and wide yorkers have helped Punjab put the brakes on rival scoring. Kagiso Rabada, the Punjab spearhead, is not at his best, so Arshdeep’s form has been crucial for the team.

Punjab have also benefited from Vaibhav Arora’s fine swing bowling early in the season. The 24-year-old from Himachal Pradesh has been impressive before making way for Rishi Dhawan. We will undoubtedly hear more of Arora in the future.

The future looks bright for Anuj Rawat and Abhishek Sharma too. They are not IPL newbies but are young and talented. And their skills are in full bloom this year. After one game in two years for Rajasthan, Rawat, 22, has been bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Opening the batting with skipper Faf du Plessis, Rawat has played several pivotal innings and won a Player of the Match award before ceding his place to former India captain Virat Kohli.

IPL Rising Stars - 2
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

Abhishek finally hit his stride this year after his 2018 IPL debut for the Delhi Daredevils. Last season, the 21-year-old from Punjab played a couple of good knocks for the Sunrisers but wasn’t consistent enough to hold down a place.

All that changed this year. With the departure of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, the Sunrisers entrusted the opener’s role to Sharma. His stroke-filled innings have been a feature of Sunrisers Hyderbad’s games. Sharma’s impact has been so good that he made up for Williamson’s lack of runs.

A shortage of runs undermined Mumbai Indians too. But more than the batting, their miserable run can be attributed to the poor attack, where the absence of quality spin was glaring. When leggie Murugan Ashwin could not turn the tide in the early games, skipper Rohit Sharma turned to off-spinner Hrithik Shokeen to combat the left-handed batters.

Another rags-to-riches tale

More recently, Mumbai signed Kumar Kartikeya Singh and rushed him for the Rajasthan Royals game. The 24-year-old mystery spinner with a blend of finger and wrist spin helped rein in the Royals’ batting before Mumbai wrapped up their first win of the season in their 10th game.

Kartikeya’s is a rags-to-riches story, much like Yashwavi Jaiswal of the Rajasthan Royals, Mohammed Siraj of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and T. Natarajan of the Sunrisers Hyderabad. His first IPL outing against Rajasthan has raised a lot of expectations. Kartikeya and Shokeen may well become a winning combination in the next season.

Although less than 20 league matches are left, more youngsters are parading their skills. Yash Dayal, 24, from Uttar Pradesh, has been part of Gujarat Titan’s victory marches, although he faces competition from Pradeep Sangwan. Sai Sudharsan was a standout batter, hauling Gujarat out of trough against the Punjab Kings with an innings of authority and maturity. And Jaiswal finally came good for Rajasthan after being dropped for a poor run of scores.

These are some of the young and fearless at the IPL 2022. Bigger cheques and stardom await them. Indian cricket will be richer with the wealth of their talent.

Which of these talents will make the India's T20 World Cup squad? Umran Malik looks a certainty, and Arshdeep too could make the team. As for the rest, they will have to bide their time.

Umran Malik-1
Umran Malik of the Sunrisers Hyderabad celebrates after taking a wicket in a Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game. Malik, who has emerged one of the leading IPL wicket-takers this year with his express deliveries, is tipped to make the Indian squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Comment: Umran Malik, the Deccan Express is my rising star

Anis Sajan, Special to Gulf News

Anis Sajan

IPL 2022 has been the most exciting season, which is why most of the matches have gone to the wire. Big guns like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have not fired as much as the young Indian talents. Jasprit Bumrah has been quiet this season, picking up just five wickets in 10 games — one of the reasons the Mumbai Indians are at the bottom of the table.

The performances of youngsters have been a highlight of this IPL. In batting, Ayush Badoni started well for the Lucknow Super Giants, and then Dewald Brevis showed some spark for the Mumbai Indians. With the ball, Mohsin Khan has been doing well for Lucknow, but one youngster who has stood out for me is Umran Malik of the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Malik has been bowling quick in every game and has also picked up wickets for his franchise. So far, he has claimed 15 wickets at a staggering average of 22. Fast bowlers tend to spray the ball, so Malik has been a touch expensive. Whenever Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson brought Malik to bowl after the powerplay, he has been very lethal. His spell against Gujarat Titans was mesmerising, grabbing five wickets.

Dale Steyn, the Sunrisers bowling coach, wants him to bowl fast, and the quickest he has clocked is 157kph. I would not be surprised if he touches 160 and breaks records. With time he will have to learn to bowl the slower ball so that he does not become predictable.

He is young and fast. If guided well, this young player can do wonders for Team India in all formats. Watch out for the Deccan Express.

— Cricket enthusiast Anis Sajan is Vice-Chairman of Danube Group

Tilak Varma
Tilak Varma of the Mumbai Indians in action during in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022. The 19-year-old’s brilliant knocks have been a redeeming feature of the floundering campaign of Mumbai. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Comment: Tilak Varma, a rare bright spot for Mumbai Indians

Gautam Bhattacharyya, Senior Associate Editor

My vote for the promising young player of IPL 2022 goes to Tilak Varma, the 19-year-old batter from Hyderabad, who has been one of the few bright spots in a nightmarish Mumbai Indians campaign.

Gautam Bhattacharyya

For all the talk of the IPL being a playground where ‘talent meets opportunity, as their slogan says, familiar names occupy the top five slots in the race for Orange Cap and Purple Cap. In this context, Varma’s performance stands out in stark contrast to the campaign of a team that has lost eight of their first 10 matches.

How good is Varma? The southpaw is Mumbai’s leading scorer (till Sunday) with an aggregate of 328 runs in 10 innings at an average of 41.00 with a top score of 61. It’s not a flattering piece of statistics for the five-time champions, who had broken the bank to buy back Ishan Kishan and bid for Tim David but have hardly got the returns.

It was a no mean task for Varma, who was spotted by the Mumbai talent scouts after a solid outing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, to step out at number four for a powerful franchise. With the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Kishan failing to click in the powerplays and No 3 Suryakumar Yadav unable to convert his starts on most occasions, the youngster had to come out early but showed exemplary temperament to shore up the innings without compromising the strike rate.

In a middle order which failed to find stability, Varma had been the lone player among the newcomers who has cemented his place by showing a willingness to take responsibility. We will hear more of him in the coming season when the Mumbai Paltans go back to the drawing board.

Abhishek Sharma
Abhishek Sharma of the Sunrisers Hyderabad plays a shot during the Tata Indian Premier League 2022. Abhishek’s consistent batting displays have helped Hyderabad win several games. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Comment: Abhishek Sharma has come of age

A.K.S. Satish, Sports Editor

Several youngsters have excelled in IPL 2022. However, I loved the performance of Abhishek Sharma of the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The left-hander has been part of the squad for the last few years, but the 21-year-old has now been entrusted with the bigger responsibility of opening the innings. That move allowed him to realise his potential.

A.K.S. Satish

Abhishek has been carrying the fragile Sunrisers’ batting on his shoulders and has been highly positive in his shot selection. The natural left-hander’s elegance makes him a treat to watch.

When class batters like New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson have struggled for runs, Abhishek’s dominant displays have given the Hyderabad team solid starts. He could bowl quite well too. Since Hyderabad had a strong bowling line-up, they didn’t have to rely on his left-arm spin until the pacers were carted all over the park by the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The two overs Abhishek bowled were proof enough to classify him as an all-rounder. He could be playing a more prominent bowling role soon as the wickets slow down.

Former Indian batter V.V.S. Laxman, who heads the National Cricket Academy, had heaped praise on Abhishek ahead of Season 14 last year. Though he didn’t deliver consistently, the Punjab all-rounder has been brilliant this season.