New Delhi: Over the last three editions of the Indian Premier League, the tournament has thrown up local talent who have used the platform to make their presence felt at the national and subsequently at the international stage. Chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth may wear his heart on his sleeve when it comes to supporting the Chennai Super Kings, but the moment he dons his hat of selecting India’s lineup, he picks the best from across the eight teams.
Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja are the prime examples of players who have embraced the opportunity with open arms and gone on to play for India. This year Bangalore’s R Vinay Kumar has made the cut for the World T20 Championship squad and there are many others who will in the next few seasons be picked for India colours based on their performance in the League. In the first of the series on India’s next best players, we look at six batsmen who are sure to make their mark in international cricket.
Manish Pandey: When the inaugural season of the IPL started, the young Mumbai Indians batsman Manish Pandey, spent most of his season cheering for the team from the sidelines. Wearing a red jersey after being picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore last season, the decision paid off as the 20-year-old slammed the first century by an Indian in the IPL. This year has been no different. He has been in superb knick and his timing has improved as the tournament has progressed. With his consistent batting performance, Pandey has firmly established himself as a first choice opener for Bangalore and has supported Jaques Kallis very well in this edition of the tournament.
Naman Ojha: A wicket-keeper batsman, Naman Ojha believes in giving the ball a tonk. The Rajasthan player has in a short time made his mark in both domestic cricket as well as in the IPL. The Royals came calling for the young talented lad in the second edition of the IPL and he made his mark in his second game itself with brilliant half century. This year too he has been in fine form and has played some match-winning knocks. A lion-hearted performer, he will be remembered for his blistering knock against Chennai that came in a losing cause. Chasing an improbable 247 to win, it was Ojha who had kept them in the hunt till the very end and it is this never-say-die attitude that will see him go places. He is a vital member of the Royals’ team. He needs to work on his wicket-keeping skills a bit more and ensure that he converts his good starts into big scored every time he goes out in to the middle.
Ambati Rayudu: ICL returnee Ambati Rayudu is a talent India failed to acknowledge when he was going great guns in domestic cricket a few years ago. But his stint in the IPL is sure to put the spotlight back on him. Rayudu had made a spectacular IPL debut with a match-winning half-century against Rajasthan Royals and he continued his good form with an important cameo against the Delhi Daredevils. He is one of the key elements for Mumbai Indians in the middle order. Rayudu is still 24 and is sure to become a mainstay of India’s middle order in the near future.
Murali Vijay: Touted strictly as a Test player, Murali Vijay is making his intentions clear. Apart from the whites he has already earned, Vijay is now eyeing the India blue colours. His outstanding knocks in the IPL would have had the selectors sit up and take notice of this Chennai Super Kings batsman. His blitzkrieg against the Rajasthan Royals where he blasted 127 runs off just 56 balls was arguably among the best knocks ever in the IPL. His 78 against Royal Challengers Bangalore too was all about class. Another couple of big knocks for Chennai will not only put his team in the knock-out stage, but also propel him to an ODI and T20 call up for India.
Saurabh Tiwary: One look at Saurabh Tiwary and you would know who he idolises. While he plays under the master, Sachin Tendulkar, this Mumbai Indian batsman is all set to emulate Indian skipper MS Dhoni, from the way he trims his hair to the manner in which he wields his bat. The hard-hitting batsman, who also comes from Jharkhand, has been in excellent form in this edition of the IPL. Boasting of a good strike rate, the young lad has the firepower to send bowlers on a leather hunt and will surely be a force to reckon with if he manages to be bit more consistent. He is an exciting player, one you would pay to watch.
Manvinder Bisla: The Kings XI Punjab batsman makes the cut to this list for standing tall amongst the ruins. He is the lone local player from Punjab who has been impressive in this edition of the IPL. He looks a very dangerous prospect and has the ability to hit ball hard and a fair distance. He also has ability to play vital cameos that can change the course of the match. Bisla is another season away from knocking on the doors of the Indian selectors.