NEW DELHI: As IPL 2017 approaches, we take a look at five uncapped domestic players with plenty of expectation on their shoulders ahead of the league’s tenth season.
T NATARAJAN (Kings XI Punjab)
Natarajan, a left-arm pace bowler, came to prominence with his success for Dindigul Dragons during the 2016 Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), taking 10 wickets in seven matches including a stellar Super Over performance in which he delivered six yorkers to seal victory. Impressively, he did so with a strike-rate of 16.2 and economy rate of 7.33. This pitch-forked the 25-year-old into Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy squad, and he finished the season with 27 wickets in nine matches to help the team make the quarter-finals. A spot in TN’s T20 side followed, naturally, and on debut Nataraj played a starring role with 2/26 in narrow in. He finished the tournament with four wickets in five matches.
MOHAMMAD SIRAJ (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
The 22-year-old Hyderabad fast bowler went to his home franchise, on the back of a fine Ranji Trophy (he was the third-highest wicket-taker with 41 at 18.92 apiece) and Inter-State T20 Tournament (nine wickets at 13.88, economy 6.57). From a base price of 20 lakh, Siraj finished as Sunrisers’ second most expensive purchase after the Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan. With the franchise also acquiring England’s Chris Jordan and Australian Ben Laughlin, young Siraj adds further depth to a fast-bowling pool already comprising Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Ashish Nehra, Abhimanyu Singh, Mustafizur Rahman and Barinder Sran.
K GOWTHAM (Mumbai Indians)
Gowtham is a 28-year-old offspinning allrounder who this domestic season made it back to Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy squad and claimed 27 wickets in eight matches, including a career-best 7/108. His success helped Karnataka into the quarter-finals, where they were hammered by Tamil Nadu, and earned Gowtham a spot in the India A squad that played Australia in Mumbai last week. Between the Ranji Trophy and that practice match against Australia, Gowtham took five wickets in five matches for Karnataka in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. In 20 career T20 games, he has taken 16 wickets an at average of 26.75 and economy of 7.01, and has best figures of 4/19.
ANIKET CHOUDHARY (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
The 27-year-old Rajasthan seam bowler was purchased by RCB from a base price of 10 lakh, adding to the squad’s increased pace stocks. The franchise was already on the look-out for pace bowlers having released seven in Varun Aaron, Abu Nechim, David Wiese, Kane Richardson, Vikramjeet Malik, Praveen Dubey and Jordan, and with news that Mitchell Starc had pulled out of the 2017 IPL, RCB’s needs were amplified. In Choudhary, they have an in-form option to fall back on. He took 21 wickets in Rajasthan’s Ranji Trophy campaign, five in three Syed Mushtaq Ali matches, then 4/26 for India A against Bangladesh, and six in four matches of the Inter State Twenty20 Tournament.
MURUGAN ASHWIN (Delhi Daredevils)
During last year’s auction, Ashwin made heads turn when he was pocketed by Rising Pune Supergiants for Rs 4.5 crore. However, he was released by the franchise after managing to take seven wickets in 28.5 overs, from which he conceded runs at 8.45 an over. Ashwin, 26, finished the recent Inter State Twenty20 Tournament with six wickets in five matches with an economy of 6.85, and four in four Syed Mushtaq Ali games. During the 2016 TNPL, Ashwin claimed 13 wickets in eight appearances for Dindigul Dragons.