The Indian Premier League (IPL) has time and again proved to be an incredible platform for talented young players to prove their mettle.
While performing in domestic cricket competitions like the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is an important factor in gauging the talent and temperament of youngsters, the IPL goes one step further and exposes these players to the pressures of international cricket.
By playing with some of the finest cricketers around the world, these youngsters get a feel of the big stage at an early age. This helps them become better players and instills great confidence in them.
Every year, the IPL produces few youngsters who embrace the limelight and fast-track their way into the national team setup. Let's have a look at five such youngsters who could have an IPL season to remember.
#1 Yashasvi Jaiswal
Yashasvi Jaiswal is destined to be the next big thing to come out of Mumbai. From selling pani puri for a living to becoming the Man of the Tournament in the 2020 U-19 World Cup, the 19-year-old has definitely come a long way.
Although Team India lost the U-19 World Cup final to Bangladesh, Jaiswal was the star of the tournament, scoring 400 runs. There led to a bidding war between different IPL teams to secure the youngster's services.
The Rajasthan Royals (RR) won the bid for Jaiswal and signed the 19-year-old for INR 2.4 crores - more than ten times his base price. He was destined to form a blistering opening partnership with Jos Buttler in IPL 2020. However, that was not the case in the end.
Surprisingly, Jaiswal could only play 3 matches in the entire IPL 2020 season, where he scored just 40 runs at a modest average of 13.33 with a poor strike-rate of 90.90. RR tried different options at the top like skipper Steve Smith himself, Buttler, Ben Stokes and Robin Uthappa, giving young Jaiswal no chance of making a comeback.
Nevertheless, RR have released Smith ahead of the IPL 2021 season and have traded Robin Uthappa to the Chennai Super Kings. This has opened up a spot for the 19-year-old at the top of the order alongside either Stokes or Buttler.
With the left-hander likely to get a longer rope this time around, IPL 2021 could be Jaiswal's season to finally shine.
#2 Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Team India's victorious U-19 World Cup campaign in 2018 was a testament to emerging fast bowlers like Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Ishan Porel. Out of the trio, Nagarkoti was the most impressive as he bowled accurately with that extra bit of pace.
Nagarkoti caught the attention of a number of IPL teams. It was the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) who bagged the youngster in the IPL 2018 auction for a whopping INR 3.2 crores. Nagarkoti was certainly going to enjoy bowling at Eden Gardens as the wicket there had begun to suit the fast bowlers.
However, his joy was short-lived as an injury ruled him out of the entire IPL 2018 season. Lightning struck twice for the youngster as he ended up missing the following IPL season as well.
Nevertheless, the KKR team management didn't lose faith in Nagarkoti's ability. They know he is a special talent and have backed him and played a huge role in his rehabilitation.
Nagarkoti finally made his IPL debut in the 2020 season. Although he played 10 games last year, he only picked up five wickets. However, given that he has a season-long experience under his belt, he will be better prepared this time around.
Nagarkoti has also understood how to take care of his body and remain injury-free. The 2021 IPL season could really be a game-changer for the youngster if he is able to deliver for KKR.