Organized away from its usual time and space in a calendar year, the hard test of Indian T20 League this season has unearthed some real gems in T Natarajan, Varun Chakravarthy, and others over the past two months.
Many expected India’s U-19 World Cup heroes to turn heads in the annual T20 competition but the pandemic situation ensured that only the gritty few were able to rise to the occasion. And while some of the colts did perform, the league also saw some shrewd tacticians coming to the fore.
Here are the top five finds from the Indian T20 League this season:
DEVDUTT PADIKKAL (Bangalore)
After missing out on a superstar batsman in KL Rahul a few years back, whom Bangalore did not retain owing to a season-long injury, Virat Kohli and Co. will not repeat the blunder with Devdutt Padikkal. Purchased for just Rs. 20 lakhs, Padikkal was amongst the rich uncapped talents up for grabs at the auction following his glittering Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy displays. Kohli realized he didn’t make a wrong gamble with Padikkal in the first match itself when the southpaw scored 56 runs on his debut. Padikkal ended with 473 runs in his 15 matches for Bangalore, becoming their highest run-scorer – more than Kohli and AB de Villiers.
THANGARASU NATARAJAN (Hyderabad)
After Bhuvneshwar Kumar was injured early in the season, David Warner was in deep waters as his team struggled for wins and although T Natarajan was getting chances, he wasn’t even named among the exciting Indian T20 League prospects prior to the season. However, while the 29-year-old bowler’s continuity in the first team was sheer luck, what followed wasn’t. By the time Hyderabad’s season was over, BCCI knew they had a death-over specialist in hand to help Jasprit Bumrah. With his inch-perfect yorkers and surprisingly calm temperament, T Natarajan finished the season with 16 wickets from 16 matches and a ‘See you in Australia!’ message from captain David Warner.
VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY (Kolkata)
Like T Natarajan, Varun Chakravarthy’s time has also come gradually. The finger spinner was Eoin Morgan’s biggest weapon in the long absence of Andre Russell and Sunil Narine to cover the death overs and the Karnataka bowler stood up to the task. With more than five variations in his fingers, Chakravarthy scalped 17 wickets from 13 matches for Kolkata with an impressive economy rate of under seven, which landed him a place in the Indian T20 squad travelling to Australia. However, Chakravarthy has been ruled out of the series with an injury, a roadblock that had impeded his career on previous occasions as well.
RAVI BISHNOI (Punjab)
Ravi Bishnoi was amongst the few Indian stars who were expected to make it big this Indian T20 League season, and the hero of India’s U-19 World Cup campaign made it count. The leggie was picked by Punjab for Rs. 2 crores and it turned out to be a cheap purchase for a player that will seemingly be a mainstay for years now. Bishnoi’s specialty has been his ability to take big wickets at crunch situations and his bag of tricks was a huge reason why Punjab could remain relevant for the playoffs position until the very last week. Bishnoi ended the campaign with 12 wickets from 12 matches.
RAHUL CHAHAR (Mumbai)
When Mumbai management had decided to stick with Rahul Chahar at the 2019 auctions, it had certainly raised eyebrows of few. Being a part of Mumbai’s camp since 2017, it was only in 2019 that Rahul saw a little breakthrough in the first team before the tournament shifting to UAE seemed bad news for the 21-year-old. However, the youngster came of age away from home by playing a crucial cog in Mumbai’s wheel that was dominated by pacers. Chahar’s big match came against Punjab when he dismissed KL Rahul and Glenn Maxwell to get his team back into the game. He finished with 15 wickets off 15 matches this season.
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