IPL 2015: Four India stars catching the eye

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It’s been a mixed tournament for each of the eight IPL teams and as we enter the second half of the season there have been plenty of nerve-wracking games, lots of thrashings and an intense battle to reach the top 4.

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Much has been mentioned about the performance of the most expensive player in IPL history, Yuvraj Singh, who has yet to make a significant contribution to Delhi Daredevils, while Royal Challengers Bangalore’s wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik has also struggled to impress.

Franchises are naturally attracted to the big names in a bid to enhance their brand value in the international market and tend to splash the cash despite knowing that on-field results are not guaranteed. This, in turn, can adversely affect the team dynamics as coaches are forced to select inconsistent stars despite poor performances.

Meanwhile, the IPL has turned into a bigger platform than the Ranji Trophy for youngsters to not only showcase their potential but gain valuable insights from international players and coaches.

Here, Sport360 examines some of India’s future prospects in this year’s IPL.

SHREYAS IYER (Delhi Daredevils)

The leading run-scorer for Delhi Daredevils this season, Iyer has been on the radar ever since he scored 809 runs at an average of over 50 for Mumbai in the Ranji season just gone. In February, the 20-year old went under the hammer for a base price of Dhs58,000 ($16k) and was ultimately sold for a whopping Dhs1.5 million ($400k) as Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and the Daredevils battled it out for the youngster’s signature.

Iyer has featured in all nine of Delhi’s matches so far this season and is fifth on the list of highest run scorers with 290, striking at nearly 135. In fact, Delhi have won all their matches in which Iyer has scored 50+, with his highest being 83 against Mumbai. Iyer has been vital at the top of the order alongside captain JP Duminy as Delhi finally put an end to their miserable losing streak in the first two weeks of the campaign.

DEEPAK HOODA (Rajasthan Royals)

The all-rounder, who recently turned 20, has captured everyone’s attention with his overall performances during this year’s early exchanges. Coming in lower down the order, Hooda boasts the highest strike rate (208.92) among batsmen with over 100 runs in the 2015 IPL and his exploits with the ball have also been impressive. Hooda has the best economy rate in the IPL at the time of writing.

His fearless approach sets him apart from the rest of the youngsters and he shot to prominence during the 2013-14 Under-19 World Cup, where he ended up the second highest run scorer (235 runs at 78.33) and second-highest wicket taker (11 wickets from 5 innings at 16.72) for India. Hooda’s popularity rose further when he became only the second Baroda batsman to score a century on his first-class debut during the opening match of the 2014-15 Ranji season.

SARFARAZ KHAN (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

The youngest player ever to appear in the IPL, 17-year-old Sarfaraz has taken the cricketing world by surprise after his whirlwind 21-ball 45 against Rajasthan Royals helped Royal Challengers Bangalore get over the 200-run mark for the first time this season. The Mumbai-born batsman made his IPL debut against Chennai Super Kings on April 22 but scored just 11 off 7 and did not get to bat in the next two games.

It is hard to be noticed in a star-studded team like Bangalore but that knock against the Royals showed glimpses of his potential. Coming in at No. 6 to play the slog overs, Sarfaraz hit consecutive boundaries off Royals’ skipper Shane Watson and later hammered 18 runs off one Pravin Tambe over, impressive against a bowler who tends to be on the economical side.

Sarfaraz first hit the headlines at the age of 12 when he broke the record for the highest score in the Harris Shield inter-school tournament in 2009, scoring 439 for Rizvi Springfield against Indian Education Society. Since then, the teenage prodigy has continued to build his reputation, representing Mumbai and India at junior levels.

SANJU SAMSON (Rajasthan Royals)

Samson, still only 20, is yet to feature for Team India but has been touted to be a future star since making his IPL debut in 2013, when he scored 63 against RCB. However, the Royals’ opener has endured a mixed start this time around after being dropped to the middle order thanks to the return of captain Watson from injury and his lack of big scores up-top alongside Ajinkya Rahane.

Samson did silence his critics when he was promoted to the No. 3 slot against Mumbai Indians though, almost winning the game for his side. Chasing a daunting 187 at the Wankhede, Samson scored a blistering 76 off just 46 balls but the Royals were bowled out eight runs short. His stroke making and textbook technique is mesmerising to watch and has been an inspiration for other youngsters in the country. The Kerala-born batsman was the vice-captain of the Under-19 team at last year’s U19 World Cup and he boasts an impressive first class record, averaging 44.70 with five centuries.

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