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Five uncapped players who could have a memorable debut IPL season
April 7, 2011
Ashok Menaria, Rajasthan Royals
On a turning fourth-day pitch, Rajasthan had lost four wickets for 61 against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy final in January. Bhargav Bhatt, the tounament's leading wicket-taker, was posing problems when Ashok Menaria took matters in hand, and shifted the momentum in Rajasthan's favour. He hammered Bhatt for three straight sixes in four balls and Baroda wilted after that. Menaria, India's captain in the Under-19 World Cup, had been drafted straight in to the Rajasthan side for the Ranji quarterfinals after a long injury break, and went on to score hundreds in each knockout game. His batting style resembles Yuvraj Singh's, and what's more, he also bowls handy left-arm spin. He hasn't played a Twenty20 game yet, and is looking forward to the IPL. "My style of play is naturally aggressive, and I hopefully should not have any problems in adapting to this format as far as skills are concerned," Menaria told ESPNcricinfo. "Rahul Dravid has been advising us on the mental aspect, things like playing in front of a big crowd in a major tournament and how to focus amid the noise levels."
Ishank Jaggi, Deccan Chargers
Jaggi's growing reputation for solidity has been built over the past three seasons, when he's been the bulwark of Jharkhand's middle order along with Saurabh Tiwary. He was instrumental in their maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy triumph this year, finishing as the tournament's highest run-getter with 346 runs at 57.66 including half-centuries in the semi-final and the final. A strike-rate of 98.01 in eight Twenty20 innings does not do full justice to his talent, and he hopes to carry on his good form for Deccan Chargers. "The modern player must be able to adapt to all three versions. Being part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad earlier has helped me a lot in improving my game," Jaggi said. "Facing Dale Steyn in the nets has been a different experience altogether, and he has even given us tips on how to face up to pace bowling. Darren Lehmann, our coach, has emphasised the importance of being able to find gaps in this format."
Varun Aaron, Delhi Daredevils
Aaron hit the limelight when he bowled a delivery that was clocked at 153 kph on the speed gun in the Vijay Hazare final for Jharkhand. In his next game, he took 5 for 47 against West Zone in the Deodhar Trophy semi-final, including the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Abhishek Nayar. Pace is a rare commodity in India, more so extreme pace, but Aaron has said that he consistently bowls above the 140 kph mark. Previous such prodigies have often been clouded by fitness and form worries, but Aaron remains positive after having battled a stress fracture in the past. "I just want to bowl fast, I do not want to cut down on my pace," Aaron said. "I know this format demands a lot of variation from bowlers, and I have been working on the yorkers and the slower balls. But I think that speed is very important even in Twenty20s." The speed guns will be out in full force during the IPL.
Harshad Khadiwale, Pune Warriors
Maharashtra's Khadiwale possesses a solid record across all three formats, and finished as the second-highest run-scorer in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 214 runs from five games at a strike-rate of 132.91. His overall strike-rates of 140.08 in Twenty20s and 95.67 in List A games suggest an aggressive streak, and Khadiwale says that it's his natural game. At 22, he has already been around for five seasons, and prior to that, was a prolific scorer at age-group level. He would like to be a more consistent first-class batsman, but as long as he can blaze away in the IPL, his side Pune Warriors won't be complaining.
Mayank Agarwal, Royal Challengers Bangalore
Agarwal was a bright spot in a disappointing Under-19 World Cup for India, top-scoring for his side in the tournament. He is an explosive batsman with a strike-rate touching 100 in Under-19 one-dayers. He was a consistent performer for Karnataka in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, scoring 166 runs at a strike-rate of 139.49. He was also Man of the Series in the 2010 Karnataka Premier League, making the only century of the tournament. Facing up to Zaheer Khan, Dirk Nannes and Daniel Vettori in the Bangalore nets will be a different experience for this 20-year old, but he has lots of potential.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Abhishek Purohit
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