Top 5 young turks who could make it big in cricket

Haseeb Hameed
Haseeb Hameed impressed in England colours in 2016

International cricket witnessed several spectacular talents coming through the ranks in the past few years. Sub-continental teams have ruled the roost when it comes to identifying and picking out talented players at a very young age. However, other countries have taken a cue from Pakistan and India and now, even Australia are handing out debuts to players at the age of 20.

In the last few years, several young batsmen have made their mark in cricket. South Africa brought in the talented Temba Bavuma, Sri Lanka have Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Mendis.

Pakistan’s Babar Azam, India’s Karun Nair and Lokesh Rahul, English batsmen Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings, Australians Peter Handscomb and Matt Renshaw, and New Zealand’s Indian-born Jeet Raval, have all taken their opportunities with both hands.

Most of them, if not all, are expected to go on to play several games for their respective countries given their immense potential and skills. That said, they need to channelise their potential in the right direction. Although there are several video analysts and coaches to aid players in international cricket, a lot still hinges on hard work in the nets.

Here is a look at 5 of these young guns who could go on to become cult players for their respective countries.

#5 Haseeb Hameed

A cricketer in the mould of a yesteryear Test batsman, the 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed became the youngest player to debut as an opener for England in a Test when he made his debut against India in Rajkot last year. He made a fighting 82 in the second innings of his debut Test.

The youngster had put up a strong resilience in the first innings too, where he made an impressive 31 before he fell. His temperament and technique became a talking point among commentators and were awed by this young superstar.

Hameed went on to play 3 Tests in the series, and scored another half-century with a broken finger in the third Test after which he was ruled out of the series. England’s search for a capable batsman to partner Alastair Cook could end with Hameed, although he faces stiff competition from Keaton Jennings, who impressed in his absence.

#4 Babar Azam

Pakistan v West Indies - One Day International : News Photo
Azam scored three consecutive centuries for Pakistan against West Indies

Young Babar Azam made three consecutive ODI hundreds against the West indies in the UAE to cement his spot in the Pakistani line-up. A cousin of the Akmal brothers, Azam had piled up enough runs in the domestic circuit to impress the national selectors.

With Mohammad Hafeez dropping out of favour in 2016, Azam got an extended run at no. 3 and made the most of it. His ODI form prompted Pakistan to try him in Tests and Azam did not disappoint.

He made an unbeaten 90 against the Kiwis in their backyard in just his third Test after he had hit a 69 in his debut innings against the Windies. With Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in the last stages of their cricketing career, Pakistan need a solid batsman in the top order and Babar Azam is definitely one exciting prospect to watch out for.

#3 Matt Renshaw

Australia v Pakistan - 3rd Test: Day 1 : News Photo
The 20-year-old hit a magnificent 184 against Pakistan in the third Test

Australia are known for producing flamboyant cricketers who have plied their trade in domestic cricket for a few years. However, a drubbing in the hands of the Proteas at home forced them to rethink their strategies and in walked 20-year-old English-born Queensland opener, Matt Renshaw.

He made his Test debut in the day-night Test at Adelaide against South Africa and impressed with his ability to occupy the crease. The runs came by the time Pakistan visited Australia as Renshaw made an impressive 71 at the Gabba in just his second Test.

His best was yet to come and at Sydney, in his fourth Test, Renshaw scored his first Test hundred, an 184, that helped Australia to a series whitewash. With David Warner requiring a patient companion at the top, Renshaw has given all the right signals thus far in his career. The Indian series could, however, turn out to be a tough one for the opener and if he comes out well, he could be in for the long run.

#2 Kusal Mendis

Kusal Mendis
Mendis was part of Sri Lanka’s U-19 squad for the 2014 U-19 World Cup

Kusal Mendis was picked in the under-19 squad for the 2014 U-19 World Cup and soon made his international debut when the West Indies toured the island nation in 2015. Mendis has the flamboyance and technique to become a great batsman and this came to the fore in the first Test against Australia at Pallekele.

Mendis compiled a beautiful Test hundred, his first, a spectacular 176 that saw Sri lanka winning a rare test against the Aussies. He was named the Man of the Match for his efforts at no. 3. His ODI performances have also been equally impressive and Sri Lanka can relax knowing their future is safe in the hands of this 21-year-old.

Delightful stroke play has been the highlight of his batting since his arrival in the international cricket scene. In the recently concluded tri-series in Zimbabwe, Mendis won the Man of the Series award for a sequence of good performances. His 73-ball 94 against West Indies in a close 1-run victory and a half-century in the final earned him Man of the Match awards.

#1 Karun Nair

Karun Nair
Nair became only the second Indian to score a triple century

The Karnataka batsman was always earmarked for great things and 2016 turned out to be a dream year for the youngster. He made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe after having impressed in Ranji Trophy over the past few years. He was handed a Test debut later that year when England came to tour India.

In just his third Test match, Karun Nair became the second Indian after Virender Sehwag to make a triple hundred in Tests. He was just the third batsman to convert his maiden hundred to a triple hundred. Aside from Tests, Nair enjoyed a fruitful season in the IPL with the Delhi-based franchise, which purchased him for a whopping 4 crores in the auction.

With India looking for a dependable batsman in Test cricket, Karun Nair has barged his way to the side with spectacular performances in 2016. He will be looking to nail down the no. 6 slot when Australia tour later this year.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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