The IPL has always managed to bring into limelight a few cricketers every season. This season might not have churned out as many young stars as the previous years, but there are a few who have made heads turn. With the league phase of IPL 5 over, we take a look at three uncapped Indian players who impressed in 2012. (All figures as of the end of May 23, 2012)
Matches 12, wickets 17, average 21.88, economy 7.91, strike-rate 16.5
Awana, a right-arm fast bowler who plays Ranji Trophy cricket for Delhi, was the find of the season for Kings XI Punjab. He finished as the leading wicket-taker with 17 and a best of 4 for 34, and troubled the best in the business with his nippy action.
Coming off the back of a domestic season in which he took 57 wickets, Awana made his debut for KXIP on April 12 against Pune Warriors India and went wicketless while conceding just 18 runs from four overs. But against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the next match, Awana grabbed 4 for 34 including three early strikes to jolt RCB. He took out Mayank Agarwal and Virat Kohli in his opening over and added Saurabh Tiwary in this third, before returning to collect Chris Gayle in his fourth. However, it wasn't enough to prevent defeat.
After five matches Awana had taken nine wickets and was making people notice him. The 25-year-old was prone to go for a few runs, but overall his pace and ability to check batsmen with pace and bounce was highly impressive. Though Awana was disappointed with his India A snub, his future looks bright.
Matches 16, runs 432, average 27.00, strike-rate 126.31
Punjab's top-order batsman Mandeep has been one of the finds of the IPL, with his impressive performances and confidence catching everyone's attention. Mandeep, who was India's vice-captain in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup, came into IPL 5 as the leading run-scorer in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 268 runs from nine matches at a strike-rate of 127.61. That undoubtedly prompted the KXIP management to play him in all 16 matches and Mandeep's 432 runs were a team best and played a big role in Punjab's performances.
He began with a series of 20s and 30s but scores of 56, 43 and a 48-ball 75 against Deccan Chargers catapulted him into the top ten run-getters' list, ahead of his more illustrious Australian team-mates David Hussey and Shaun Marsh. The 20-year-old has been hailed as a "future India player in all three forms" by Hussey.
Matches 12, wickets 8, average 39.75, economy 7.06, strike-rate 33.70
Delhi's young spinner was for the most part a delight to watch, and earned accolades for his tidiness. Against Mumbai Indians on April 16, Nadeem's analysis of 2 for 16 while sharing the new ball with Irfan Pathan was instrumental in Delhi winning by seven wickets. In his one-run first over he bowled Davy Jacobs and then in his second Nadeem spun one past Richard Levi to clean up the South African.
His best performance (3 for 16) came against Deccan on April 19 - the best analysis for Delhi. The sixth bowler used, Nadeem was held back until the tenth over but struck with his first ball to trap Shikhar Dhawan lbw and produce the needed breakthrough. Nadeem was denied a second wicket when Kevin Pietersen dropped a catch in the deep but he made up for it in the same over by having Parthiv Patel held at deep square leg. JP Duminy became his third wicket in three overs, deceived by a slower ball, and had Pietersen not stormed his way to a century Nadeem was a surefire candidate for Man of the Match.
His 2 for 35 against Mumbai on April 27 included the wickets of Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard. After three overs for 32, Nadeem roared back by dismissing Rayudu and Pollard in successive deliveries in the 16th over to turn the match back Delhi's way dramatically. Nadeem went wicketless in the next four games and was not used again by Delhi in the league phase, but he had done enough to earn plaudits.