The IPL has been postponed indefinitely after several players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19. While this leaves the story of this season’s IPL unfinished, there have been several takeaways from the tournament thus far.
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are back in the reckoning after a lackluster IPL 2020, where they finished seventh; the Delhi Capitals (DC) continued their resurgence of recent years; and, injuries and withdrawals left RR with a severely depleted foreign contingent. Even as team and tournament fortunes continue to sway, we've seen some Indian players grab the headlines with their solid performances.
The uncertainties notwithstanding, India is set to host the 2021 T20 World Cup later in the year. With this in mind, let's take a look at three Indian players, uncapped at T20 international level, who have done well in IPL 2021 and have made a case for their selection to the national team.
1. Prithvi Shaw (308 runs at 38.5, Strike-Rate of 166.48 in IPL 2021):
The Mumbai batter had a tough time in IPL 2020 and the subsequent India tour Down Under. His performances and temperament were scrutinized and he was dropped after scores of 0 and 4 in the first Test in Australia. Yet, with just a minor tweak to his game, he was back with a bang in the tournaments leading up to this year’s IPL. Prithvi Shaw hit 827 runs in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy at an average of 165.4 and a strike-rate of 138.29.
He has been able to carry this form into the IPL for Delhi Capitals.
While there is strong competition for the opening batting slot in the Indian T20 team with Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan and even captain Virat Kohli all in the running to partner Rohit Sharma, no one can deny the immense talent that Prithvi Shaw possesses.
The Indian team has often suffered due to slow starts and hasn't been able to make the best of the powerplay. Prithvi Shaw's presence could help change this.
2. Avesh Khan (14 wickets at 16.5, Economy-Rate of 7.7 in IPL 2021):
Prithvi Shaw's Delhi Capitals teammate Avesh Khan has made big strides in this season's IPL. The Madhya Pradesh pacer has represented India at the junior and sub-tier-one levels and the senior team management will not mind another up-and-coming fast bowler in the ranks.
Avesh Khan has taken a wicket in each of the eight IPL matches that he has featured in this season. And he has proved to be effective at all stages of the game: be it with the new ball, in the middle overs or towards the death.
India would love to have a confident fast bowler and if his form continues the way it has, don’t be surprised if Avesh Khan makes the T20 World Cup squad.
3. Deepak Hooda (116 runs at 19.33, Strike rate of 143.2 and 2 wickets at 49.5, Economy Rate of 7.07 in IPL 2021)
The Baroda all-rounder looked like a man on a mission this IPL season. He began the tournament with a swashbuckling 64 off 28 balls which ensured a Punjab Kings victory over the Rajasthan Royals.
He has also bowled economical spells and has been one of the few bright spots for Punjab this season.
Since his early days in cricket, Deepak Hooda has been a team player who thrives under pressure. This was visible during his first-class debut when he scored a hundred against Bengal. In IPL 2020, he scored a scintillating 62 off 30 against CSK to salvage a tottering Punjab innings. On both occasions, his team didn't come out on top but the point remains that Hooda gave his best even in adverse circumstances.
India would love to have an all-round option in the mold of Yuvraj Singh who can bat aggressively and chip in with the ball. Deepak Hooda could land a chance before the World T20 to see if he fits the bill.