The 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) has given fans across the country two weeks of nonstop entertainment during these unprecedented times.
A number of young players, thrown into unfamiliar conditions at new franchises, have made their presence felt in the tournament. Expensive signings such as Shahrukh Khan and Kyle Jamieson have been stellar for the Punjab Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively, despite an apparent lack of experience.
Here are 3 uncapped Indian players who have impressed in IPL 2021 so far.
#3 Chetan Sakariya - 7 wickets in IPL 2021
Signed by the Rajasthan Royals after an impressive domestic season, Chetan Sakariya has been one of the standout performers in IPL 2021 so far.
The young left-armer has taken the new ball and bowled at the death with aplomb for RR. With 7 wickets in 5 games at an economy rate of 8.3, he has displayed a plethora of variations and even dismissed Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni with a smart slower ball.
The personal tragedies Sakariya endured before the IPL have only added to the enormity of his achievements this year, and he is an early favorite for the Emerging Player of the Year award.
Speaking about his team's promising quick, RR captain Sanju Samson said:
“He’s [Chetan Sakariya] a very different kind of a person and a chilled-out person. It’s a very positive thing for Rajasthan Royals. He’s ready to play this tournament and big matches. Hopefully, he’ll win more matches for us in the future.”
#2 Deepak Hooda - 109 runs and 1 wicket in IPL 2021
Deepak Hooda had a difficult domestic season with Baroda ahead of IPL 2021, where disciplinary issues and disagreements with teammates saw him receive a ban from the association. He had a point to prove, and he has certainly taken significant steps towards proving said point.
Hooda kicked off his IPL 2021 campaign with a stunning assault against the Rajasthan Royals. He showed shots all around the park, and was attacking right from the first ball he faced. Although he hasn't had the time to put on another sizeable score since, the 26-year-old is in the form of his life at the moment.
Hooda has chipped in with the ball too, and has taken 1 wicket in 9 overs while conceding runs at an economy rate of just 6.11. He has been one of the standout players for the Punjab Kings so far, and will look to build on these performances as his team attempt to make a run for the playoffs.
#1 Harshal Patel - 12 wickets in IPL 2021
Amidst the high-profile trades involving Robin Uthappa and Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel wasn't talked about very often in the lead-up to IPL 2021. But he is the only traded player to have featured in games this season, and he sits proudly at the top of the Purple Cap list.
With 12 wickets in 4 games at an economy rate of 7.25, Harshal has been Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli's go-to man at the death. He took the first-ever five-wicket haul against the Mumbai Indians during the IPL 2021 season opener, and followed it up with consistent outings in the following games.
Kohli had this to say after RCB's win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad:
"To be very honest, we’re not overexcited with the victories. We have a clear plan and backing our players. We got Harshal Patel from Delhi Capitals for a role, and he has been phenomenal. It’s a long tournament, and you have to be professional with your job".