The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has started in a grand fashion. All 4 matches produced Man of the Match performances from Indian players. Over the years uncapped young players have used IPL as a platform to showcase their talent. This year promises to be no different. We look at some of the uncapped players who may potentially make a high impact in the tournament.
M. Harishankar Reddy (CSK)
The Andhra Pradesh swing bowler steaming in with a thin frame of body and releasing the ball high enough to pitch it upstream is a sight to behold. Reddy likes it to swing the ball both ways and that coupled with a perfect over-pitched length leaves for the batsman little or no time to react, particularly for those who haven’t seen much of him. Harishankar was boomed with curiosity and saw people logging in to know more about the 22-year-old medium-fast bowler after a video of him bowling MS Dhoni out in the CSK nets was surfaced.
The youngster made his T20 debut for Andhra in the 2017-18 Zonal T20 League against Kerala and it was in his first match itself that he showed to the world what he was capable of. In just 2 overs that were given to him to bowl, Harishankar picked up 4 wickets, which also included the dismissal of Kerala captain, Sachin Baby, all in exchange for just 12 runs. He then returned with figures of 3/30 against Hyderabad to make a strong case for himself.
It would be interesting to see him going if and when he finds a place for himself in the CSK XI which, given the likes of bowlers the team boasts of, is not going to be the easiest of the tasks.
Lukman Meriwala (DC)
The left-arm medium-pacer with his sharp off-cutters can bring down havoc to any lineup. He made his t20 debut for Baroda in 2013-14 and managed to set a mark in his first season itself, where he came out as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament that saw Baroda lifting the coveted trophy for the second time.
After moving to Baroda from his native village in Sarnar, Meriwala found mentors in his Baroda seniors and star team India performers, Yusuf and Irfan Pathan. The Pathan brothers took him under their guidance and moulded him into what he is today. In the 2020 edition of the cash-rich league, another disciple of Pathan, Abdul Samad boomed himself into the scene when he made it to the SRH playing XI 12 out of 16 times.
Meriwala proved his mettle yet again and turned heads when he picked up 5 wickets in exchange for just 8 runs against Chattisgarh in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He finished as the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 15 scalps from 8 matches, just 1 short of Ashutosh Aman’s 16. His run in the tournament included economical spells like those of 3/13 and 2/14 against Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, respectively.
In the Delhi setup that includes the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, all of whom has a taste for speed, Meriwala with a rather slower arm would be an exciting prospect to watch out for.
C. Hari Nishanth (CSK)
Narayan Jagdeesan’s opening partner for Tamil Nadu, C. Hari Nishanth found the Chennai based franchise raising their paddle to bid and eventually procure his services for 2021 IPL. A left-handed batsman, Nishanth took off to a flying start in his team’s campaign initiator against Jharkhand in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. A proven hitter of length deliveries, Nishanth scored a scintillating 92 in just 64 deliveries, remaining unbeaten to miss his well deserved century by an inch.
Nishanth made his T20 debut for Tamil Nadu in the 2018-19 season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He had a phenomenal run in the recently concluded SMAT, where he registered the second-highest cumulative score for Tamil Nadu. In 8 outings, he scored 246 runs at an average of 41.
In Murali Vijay and Shane Watson’s absence, C. Hari Nishanth might be seen opening the innings with Ruturaj Gaekwad or could be looked at as a possible alternative if any top-order batsman fails to fire.