The Indian Premier League (IPL) is hurtling towards its final stages as the battle for the playoff spots nears its conclusion. The season has once witnessed the rise of potential stars while the reputation of some established players has taken a beating.
A few plenty of youngsters have made their mark already in the tournament. Here, we look at five of the most impressive players below the age of 21 on show this year.
PRITHVI SHAW – DELHI DAREDEVILS
The India U19 World Cup winning skipper came into his maiden IPL with a reputation to uphold. He had to wait to get his chance in the playing XI but once he got a look-in, the 18-year-old has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
A fine knock of 62 in only his second IPL innings was followed by excellent showings against Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Shaw has gone off the boil in his last two innings but 216 runs in seven innings in his debut IPL season is impressive.
SHUBMAN GILL – KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
The player of the tournament in India’s U19 World Cup win, Shubman Gill has stepped up to the IPl challenge with ease. His unbeaten 57 in Kolkata’s win over Chennai Super Kings proved his class and maturity.
He has been asked to bat down the order and while he has scored just one half-century to show for, Gill has managed to prove that he is destined for great things.
His composed performances have drawn huge praise from none other than South African legend Jacques Kallis who is the coach of the team.
MUJEEB UR RAHMAN – KINGS XI PUNJAB
Mujeeb created history at the start of the tournament when he became the youngest player to debut in the IPL. The 17-year-old Afghanistan spinner has bamboozled well-established batsmen with his variations.
With 14 scalps in 11 matches, Mujeeb is currently the fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament. His performances with the ball along with KL Rahul’s batting have been the major forces behind Kings XI’s impressive campaign. With his mystery spin still confounding batsmen, Mujeeb could be a real handful for the Indians when Afghanistan make their Test bow next month.
MAYANK MARKANDE – MUMBAI INDIANS
The Punjab-born leg-spinner has been the find of the tournament so far. Virtually an unknown prior to the IPL, Markande has surprised one and all with 14 wickets in 12 matches.
He started the season on fire with a three-wicket haul against Chennai in the tournament opener followed by four wickets against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The wrist-spinner has exhibited great control with his line and length and possesses an excellent googly. His emergence has shades of Yuzvvendra Chahal’s rise in the IPL two years ago and the youngster would do well to follow in the footsteps of the India player.
RISHABH PANT – DELHI DAREDEVILS
If there has been any positive for bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils this year, it has been the performance of young Rishabh Pant. The 20-year-old wicket-keeper batsman is currently the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 582 runs from 12 innings at an average of over 52 and a strike-rate on nearly 180.
Striking the ball to all parts of the ground with brute force, Pant has been fearless with his batting. His unbeaten 63-ball 128 in the loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad could well go down as the standout innings of the IPL this year. How he was not picked for India’s T20 squad for the England series remains a mystery.
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