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YOUNG GUNS FIRE AT THEIR FINEST AS IPL SEASON GATHERS STEAM!

"Success is when preparation meets opportunity.” This old quote rings extremely true for the IPL as the league has been a talent fest over the past 15 years where young cricketers get great opportunities against the finest players from around the world. The first fortnight of the marquee tournament this year too has seen some brilliant performances from some terrific youngsters who are in the limelight for all the right reasons.

RINKU SINGH But none has shone brighter or created a bigger buzz than Rinku Singh. Playing for Kolkata Knight Riders as a middle order hitter, he was sensational against Gujarat Titans, hitting 5 sixes of 5 deliveries when his team needed 28 off the last over of the match. Rinku has been a prominent figure in the Indian domestic circuit as well. He has featured in 75 T20 matches and notched up 1294 runs at a strike rate of 137.95.

Rinku was brilliant in IPL 2022 season as well where he played 7 matches and hammered 174 runs at a strike rate of 148.72. His feat against Gujarat put Kolkata Knight Riders in the top four on the points table with 3 wins out of 4 matches. In the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore too, Rinku hit 46 off 33 balls in a 68-run partnership with Shardul Thakur.

TILAK VARMA The other youngster to shine in this year’s IPL is Tilak Varma. The 20-year-old Mumbai Indians star hit an unbeaten 84 in their first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Though his effort ended up in a losing cause, yet against Delhi Capitals he hit a 29 ball 41 to help Mumbai lodge their first win in this edition of the IPL. A prolific scorer in the Indian domestic circuit, Tilak has amassed 1236 runs at an incredible average of 56.18.

Last season too, Tilak was brilliant and aggregated 397 runs at a strike rate of 131.02; a reason why the Mumbai franchise retained him for the 2023 season and prompted Ravi Shastri to remark that Tilak might soon play for India!

RUTURAJ GAIKWAD There’s one more batter who is setting a strong case for himself to be consistently selected in the Indian Team. Ruturaj Gaikwad has scored 2 half centuries and a 40 not out in the 4 games that Chennai has played so far. His batting prowess has meant that Super Kings don’t have to be bothered about a strong start to their batting innings anymore.

AYUSH BADONI From Delhi’s cricketing circles comes another incredible talent - Ayush Badoni - who has created a buzz as an ‘Impact Player’. The 23-year-old may not have scored big runs but they have come at a tremendous strike rate of 144.90, mostly in the crucial death overs. His impact innings has been a reason for Lucknow finding itself in the top 3 of the points table with 3 wins.

This year’s IPL has been rewarding for many leg spinners in the game and clearly points out the need for their craft, especially in the shortest format of the game. Rashid Khan and Yuzvendra Chahal are the top wicket takers with 9 and 10 wickets respectively. But opportunities have also been given to former Indian leggies like Piyush Chawla and Amit Mishra as well and they too have grabbed them with both hands. Chawla chipped in with 3 wickets for Mumbai against Delhi in their first win. Mishra has also picked up 3 wickets in the two matches that he has played so far for Lucknow SuperGiants, proving that the T20 game has room for anyone who is willing to improve.

SUYASH SHARMA But a miracle story is of Suyash Sharma, the young leggie from Delhi, who till last year was an unknown diamond lying in the dark until his glitter was discovered by talent scouts of the Knight Riders. The result is that he picked up 3 wickets for 30 runs against Royal Challengers in his very first game this year in a confident display of his leg spinning abilities. This is the most impact leg spinners have had in the last 3 years of IPL as they have picked up 33 wickets in just 10 games!

As the IPL season progresses and contests become fiercer in the next few weeks with teams evolving newer strategies and combinations, the T20 matches will test the acumen of old and young alike. It is then that the talent and mental resolve of the young guns will be put through fire. Meanwhile, the fans of the respective franchises will certainly hope that their teams increase the intensity of their game just like the soaring temperature of the Indian summer!

THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY THE AUTHOR ARE PERSONAL

SIDDHAARTH MAHAN The writer is a specialist on Sports and Cinema who works as an actor in the Hindi fi lm industry

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