The Indian Premier League (IPL) has provided a perfect platform to the young and promising Indian and overseas cricketers to showcase their talent. The motto that is inscribed on the IPL trophy, "Yatra Pratibha Avsara Prapnotihi" which implies "Where talent meets opportunity", stands as a testament.
The most promising talent in every season of the IPL is recognised with the 'IPL Emerging Player of the Year' award. Although the name of the award and the criteria have changed over the years, the intent of encouraging the upcoming talent remains the same.
The award was originally bestowed to the best Under-19 player in the inaugural season of the IPL in 2008 and to the best Under-23 player in the next two years. In 2011 and 2012, the award was called 'Rising Star of the Year' and 'Best Young Player of the Season' respectively. Since 2014, it has been known as the 'Emerging Player of the Year' award.
As per the current criteria, a player has to meet the following four requirements to be considered for the "Emerging Player of the Year" award:
# Should be less than 25 years of age as of April 1st of the year under consideration.
# Should have played less than 5 test matches or 20 ODIs.
# Should have played less than 25 IPL matches before the current season.
# Should not have won the 'Emerging Player of the Year' award in any of the previous editions of the IPL.
On that note, let us have a look at the players who have won the coveted "Emerging Player of the Year" award over the years and how their respective careers have unfolded.
Shreevats Goswami - 2008
Shreevats Goswami, a part of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup-winning squad, was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) along with Virat Kohli, in the inaugural IPL. Although Goswami played just 4 matches in the season, he scored 82 runs in 3 innings which included a half-century. He was deemed to be the best performer amongst the Under-19 players and was subsequently bestowed with the 'Best Under-19 player' award.
With MS Dhoni already an established member of the Indian cricket team by that time and the presence of the talented Wriddhiman Saha in the Bengal Ranji team, Goswami could not make a big mark even at the domestic level.
Although still active as a player in the domestic circuit, he has played just 55 first-class matches over the last 12 years in which he has aggregated 2534 runs at an average of 30.53. Even in the IPL, he has received limited playing team, having been part of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rajasthan Royals (RR), Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) teams.
Rohit Sharma - 2009
In the 2009 season of the IPL, Sharma amassed 362 runs at an average of 27.84 and helped DC win their only title in the competition. This performance earned him the 'Best Under-23 Player' award even though he was already an established India international player by then, having been part of the 2007 ICC T20 World Cup-winning team.
Rohit has since gone from strength to strength, both while representing India at the international level, as well as in the IPL. An integral part of the Indian limited-overs set-up, Shama is now establishing himself as a permanent member of the test squad.
For the record, the Mumbai Indians captain has aggregated more than 14000 runs at the international level - 9115 runs in ODIs at an average of 49.27, 2773 runs in T20Is including 4 centuries and 2141 runs at 46.54 in tests.
Sharma is the 3rd highest run-getter in the history of the IPL, having scored 4898 runs to his credit. But the icing on the cake has been the 4 IPL titles he has won as the captain of MI apart from the IPL 2009 title he won as a player with DC.
Saurabh Tiwary - 2010
Saurabh Tiwary is another member of the Indian 2008 Under-19 World Cup-winning squad who has received the IPL 'Rising Star of the Year' award. Part of the Mumbai Indians (MI) setup since 2008, the 3rd season of the competition in 2010 brought the best out of him.
Tiwari went on to score 419 runs in the season at an average of 29.92 and a strike rate of 135.59 to become the highest run-scorer for MI that season, after Sachin Tendulkar. This performance won him the 'Best Under-23 Player' award for the 2010 IPL.
The left-hand batsman has had a very short international career, representing India in just 3 ODIs in which he managed to score 49 runs without being dismissed. But the lack of fitness and consistency in domestic performances contributed to him not getting an extended run with the senior team.
Tiwari has continued to ply his trade at the domestic level for Jharkand, and in the IPL for multiple teams, but with mixed success. For the record, he has aggregated 6975 runs in 100 first-class matches at a decent average of 47.12 and 2890 runs in all T20s including IPL.
Iqbal Abdulla - 2011
Iqbal Abdulla, the highest wicket-taker for India in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, was with KKR since 2008 but came into his own in the 2011 season. The left-arm spinner from Mumbai picked up 16 wickets at an average of 19.06 and an economy rate of only 6.1. This helped him to not only finish the season as the highest wicket-taker for KKR but also won him the "Rising Star of the Year" award for the season.
Abdulla has had a decent first-class career, accounting for 213 wickets in 68 matches, and has represented RR and RCB apart from KKR in the IPL. But he could not live up to the lofty standards he had set in 2011. With Ravindra Jadeja cementing his place in the Indian team as a left-arm spinner and a more than capable batsman, Abdulla never received a chance to represent India at the international level.
Mandeep Singh - 2012
Mandeep Singh, the vice-captain of the Indian team at the 2010 Under-19 World Cup, was picked up by Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) for the 2011 IPL season although he got to play only 6 matches that year. But he came into his own in the 2012 edition of the competition, aggregating 432 runs, the most by any batsman from the franchise that season. This helped him to win the IPL 2012 "Rising Star of the Year"..
Singh continued to produce consistent performances in the IPL for KXIP, KKR, and RCB which helped him earn the India T20I cap in 2016.
Giving a decent account of himself in the 3 T20Is he played, Singh scored a total of 87 runs which included an unbeaten fifty. But with the Indian team packed with quality middle-order players, he could not cement his place in the playing XI for long.
The Punjab player has accumulated 5316 runs in 78 first-class matches and 3251 runs in 165 T20s including the IPL. He is still an integral part of the KXIP team and would be hoping to come back into the national reckoning, with some consistent performances.
Sanju Samson - 2013
Sanju Samson was picked up by Rajasthan Royals (RR) for the 2013 season of the IPL. Although he was part of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the previous season, he never got a chance to play for them.
Samson aggregated 206 runs in 11 matches for the franchise, with a high score of 63. Although he was not one of the top run-getters in the season, his attractive stroke-play caught the eye, thereby receiving the "Best Young Player of the Season" award.
The youngster managed to break into the Indian T20I team in 2015 but only got a solitary opportunity. Following a long hiatus from the international stage, Samson earned another chance in the senior T20 team this year but failed to capitalise the opportunity.
Overall, the 25-year-old has represented India in 4 T20Is, aggregating an underwhelming tally of 35 runs. At the first-class level the Kerala batsman has been more prolific, accumulating 3162 runs in 65 matches and 3481 runs in 149 T20s including the IPL.
One of the more consistent performers for RR over the years, Samson would strive to keep himself in the national reckoning with some match-winning efforts.
Axar Patel - 2014
Axar Patel was picked by Kings XI Punjab for the 2014 season of the IPL. The move paid great dividends as the left-arm spinner picked up 17 wickets at an economy of just 6.13. This helped the franchise reach their maiden IPL final and Axar receiving the "Emerging Player of the Year" award for the season.
This performance catapulted Patel into the Indian ODI team in 2014 and a place in the T20I outfit the following year. Apart from being a mean left-spin spinner, Patel has proved to be a handy lower-order batsman who could provide some quick runs.
Overall, he has represented India in 38 ODIs and 11 T20Is, accounting for 45 and 9 wickets respectively in the two formats. But with Ravindra Jadeja's growing prowess as an all-rounder and the emergence of Krunal Pandya as another alternative, Patel has slipped off the pecking order in recent times.
The left-arm spinner continues to dish out consistent all-round performances for Gujarat at the first-class level. For the record, he has picked up 134 wickets and accumulated 1665 runs in 39 first-class matches, besides snaring 114 wickets and scoring 1511 runs in 131 T20s including the IPL.
Currently plying his trade for Delhi Capitals in the IPL, Patel would be eager to dish out some consistent all-round performances to come back into the national reckoning.
Shreyas Iyer - 2015
Shreyas Iyer was picked up by the Delhi Capitals, called Delhi Daredevils at that time, for the 2015 season of the IPL. The young Mumbai player lived up to his potential and went on to score 439 runs, including 4 fifties, in the season at an average of 33.76, thereby earning the "Emerging Player of the Year" award that season.
Iyer continued his consistent performances for Mumbai at the first class-level and the Capitals in the IPL. This earned him a place in the Indian limited-overs team in 2017. Despite some decent performances, he could not cement his place in the Indian line-up. Making a comeback to the senior team last year, Iyer has all but sealed his spot at the No.4 position in the white-ball format.
His performances have been particularly heartening in the ODI format where the 25-year-old has aggregated 748 runs in 18 matches at an excellent average of 49.86 while in the T20Is he has scored 417 runs in 22 matches at a strike rate of 129.5.
Iyer has become a pivotal member of the Capitals' IPL team and was even given the captaincy of the team in 2018. Overall, he has scored 1681 runs in 62 IPL matches for the Delhi-based team.
In first-class cricket, the Mumbaikar has aggregated 4592 runs in 54 matches at an average of 52.18. With his growing maturity, he would hope to continue dishing out consistent performances for the Indian limited-overs team and break into the Indian test squad.
Mustafizur Rahman - 2016
Mustafizur Rahman was picked by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for the 2016 season of the IPL after his excellent breakthrough performances at the international level, especially against India.
The Bangladeshi left-arm quick did not disappoint the SRH management by claiming 17 wickets at an economy rate of just 6.9 . This performance helped SRH win the IPL title that season as Rehman became the first foreign player to win the competition's "Emerging Player of the Year" award.
Rehman continued to be the spearhead of the Bangladesh attack in all three formats of the game, claiming almost 200 wickets (109 in 58 ODIs, 58 in 41 T20Is and 28 in 13 test matches) at the international level.
However, hampered by injuries and subsequent loss of form, the left-armer failed to replicate his magic performances in subsequent IPL campaigns for SRH and Mumbai Indians respectively. As a result, he went unsold at the IPL 2020 auctions.
Basil Thampi - 2017
Basil Thampi was picked by Gujarat Lions for the 2017 season of the IPL. The young quick impressed one and all with his express pace and ability to bowl the yorker at the death. Although he picked only 11 wickets in the 12 matches he played in IPL 2017, he received the "Emerging Player of the Year" award for his immense potential.
Once regarded as a potential candidate in the Indian pace bowling line-up, Thampi has since fallen off the radar, with speedsters like Navdeep Saini taking the lead.
The Kerala bowler has picked up 79 wickets in 35 first-class matches and 60 wickets in 57 T20s including the IPL. Thampi has been part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad team for the last 2 seasons of the competition but has played only 7 matches in which he claimed 5 wickets.
Rishabh Pant - 2018
Rishabh Pant was picked by the Delhi Capitals in the 2016 season of the IPL. After some mixed results in his first two seasons of the competition, Pant showed his true potential in the IPL 2018.
He emerged as the highest run-scorer amongst Indian batsmen and the 2nd highest overall, aggregating 684 runs in 14 innings at an average of 52.61 and an outstanding strike rate of 173.6. This performance duly earned him the "Emerging Player of the Year" award for the IPL 2018 season.
Although Pant had already made his T20I debut in 2017, his great form in IPL 2018 helped him earn a spot in the Indian test and ODI teams. However, with his temperament and shot selection being questionable at times, his international performances have often been blighted by inconsistency.
Pant has since lost his place as a wicket-keeper in the Indian limited-overs team to KL Rahul. Even his spot in the Indian test team is under question, with the extremely safe Wriddhiman Saha waiting in the wings. For the record, Pant has aggregated 814 runs in 13 Test matches, 374 runs in 16 ODIs and 410 runs in 28 T20Is.
Although Pant has not set the world on fire at the international level, it is his performances in the IPL that have showcased his immense potential. Having aggregated 1736 runs in 54 matches at a strike rate of 162.69, he is one of the most feared batsmen in the IPL. The youngster would be keen to continue such match-winning performances in the competition to remain in the radar of the Indian selectors.
Shubman Gill - 2019
Shubman Gill, the player of the tournament at the 2018 Under-19 World Cup, was picked by KKR in the 2018 season of the IPL. Providing glimpses of his immense talent in his first IPL season in 2019, he enhanced his growing reputation with consistent performances at the top of the order.
Gill aggregated 296 runs in 14 innings at an average of 32.88 and a strike rate of 124.36. More than the numbers, it was his pleasing strokeplay that caught the eye and he was heralded as the future of Indian cricket. The "Emerging Player of the Year" award that he received was a due recognition of the talent and promise he possesses.
The 20-year-old represented India in a couple of ODIs before IPL 2019 but could not give a good account of himself by scoring only 16 runs. Since then he has been a part of multiple Indian squads but has not been able to break into the playing XI.
Gill has shown his prowess both in the longer and shorter formats of the game at the domestic level. The Punjab batsman has accumulated 2133 runs in 21 matches at a mind-boggling average of 73.55 in first-class cricket. Even in the white-ball format he has scored 2280 runs in 57 List A matches at a healthy average of 45.6 and 777 runs in 37 T20s including the IPL.
Considering the above numbers, it only seems a matter of time that the talented Punjab player would become an integral part of the Indian team.