The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been responsible for unearthing several talents across various spectrums over the years. The talent pool among the franchises in the tournament has proven to be an excellent avenue for selectors to consider aside from the domestic circuit.
The selection committee may be forced to dip its toes in the IPL once again in terms of finding a long-term finisher. With Hardik Pandya seemingly promoted in the thick of things in the middle order and Dinesh Karthik not in the scheme of things anymore, finding and grooming a finisher becomes imperative in time for the 2024 T20 World Cup.
A formidable finisher could prove to be of great importance as Team India aspire to switch their approach in the shortest format. The upcoming edition of the IPL could very well prove to be an audition for the candidates, who can largely look to cement their place in the national side should they have a credible set of displays in the lower-middle order for their respective franchises.
On that note, here are five prospective candidates who can break into the Indian team on the back of their finishing skills in IPL 2023.
#1 Shahrukh Khan - Punjab Kings
The brute hitter was primed to have a landmark season in 2022 after being roped in by the Punjab Kings (PBKS) for a sum of ₹9 crore at the mega-auction. However, he could not repay his faith after a series of disappointing performances.
Shahrukh Khan amassed only 117 runs across eight innings at a strike rate of 108.33, marking a forgettable season. The 27-year-old received a second life after the franchise chose to retain him ahead of the 2023 IPL mini-auction.
A solid season with a bolstered PBKS unit could fast-track his progress into the Indian side. The Tamil Nadu batter was close to making it into the Indian squad in early 2022 after being named among the standby players for the home series against the West Indies.
A credible IPL season could potentially be the missing piece in the puzzle or the last step of the bridge for the talented finisher.
#2 Riyan Parag - Rajasthan Royals
The Assam-born player has had a dream domestic campaign and is making a strong case following a lukewarm IPL 2022 campaign. He scored 253 runs across seven matches at a strike rate of 165.36 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy as Assam finished fourth in the Elite Group A.
Riyan Parag was bought back by the Rajasthan Royals (RR) during the mega-auction for ₹3.8 crore.
The upcoming edition of the IPL could prove to be defining for the youngster if he wants to cash in on the opportunity. Besides his finishing, Parag's bowling skills and gun fielding ability could also prove to be handy for any side.
The all-rounder recently went berserk in the Ranji Trophy group-stage contest against Hyderabad. He showcased his T20 skills in whites with a stunning 78-run knock, off just 28 deliveries.
#3 Abdul Samad - Sunrisers Hyderabad
The all-rounder's innate six-hitting ability instantly caught everyone's eye in IPL 2020. His woes with the bat paralleled Sunrisers Hyderabad's (SRH) troubles as they failed to get the ground running over the last couple of editions.
Despite an impressive career strike rate of 142 in the competition, Abdul Samad's average reads only 14 and he has struggled to cement his place in the squad as well.
The Jammu and Kashmir-born player has an uphill path ahead of him to consistently break into the playing XI, but a good burst of form in a couple of matches could turn things around for the youngster.
He could only muster two appearances in the 2022 season, scoring five runs in the process.
A relatively promising set of performances at the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy could be the burst of confidence he needs to translate his displays onto the biggest stage.
A positive season for the all-rounder could help him breakthrough into the national side much like his state teammate Umran Malik.
#4 Jitesh Sharma - Punjab Kings
The Vidarbha player was a surprise in the previous edition of the competition. He made his debut against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and his vibrant, electric presence proved to be a catalyst in the batting unit, especially with the likes of Shahrukh Khan and Odean Smith not performing well with the bat.
Jitesh Sharma ended up playing 12 matches in the campaign, scoring 234 runs at an impressive strike rate of 163.64. His ability to get going and a penchant for unorthodox strokes make him the perfect candidate as a finisher, should he be able to prolong his form. He also provides an extra dimension to his game with his wicket-keeping capability.
Jitesh played a pivotal role in Vidharbha's run to the finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2022. He top-scored for his side in the final against Mumbai with 46 runs. But it went in vain as Mumbai emerged as comfortable winners in the end.
#5 Rinku Singh - Kolkata Knight Riders
Rinku Singh had to wait a significant while for a consistent run in the playing XI for the two-time champions. He largely came on as a substitute fielder and got a handful of chances across his first couple of seasons with the franchise.
However, the Uttar Pradesh-born player showed his potential after getting a solid run in the second half of the 2022 season. He scored 174 runs at a strike rate of 148.72 in seven matches. Rinku was subsequently retained by the side and is primed to play a key role in the upcoming edition.
A left-handed batter with a gifted bat swing, all of Rinku's traits were in fact seen in his most recent IPL knock. His cameo of 40 runs off 18 deliveries almost helped KKR nick a win from the jaws of defeat.
To his credit, he has been able to rest his case with a good domestic season and a solid IPL season could be the only thing separating him from a maiden national call-up.
Will any of the aforementioned names make it into the Indian team anytime soon or do you see a left-field choice like Ayush Badoni or Abhinav Manohar making the cut? Let us know what you think.
Also Read: Best Test playing XI from 2022
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