Five Indian players to watch
They may not command millions of dollars at the IPL auction and consequently, not grab the big headlines. They may find it difficult to make the starting XI consistently. But even a handful of performances over the next couple of months can get them noticed, and even lead to a place in the Indian team. The history of the IPL is replete with instances of young Indian domestic players making it big, using the platform the league offers. ESPNcricinfo looks at five players who could potentially become stars this season
Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai Indians)
One player who could look completely at ease in this format is Mumbai's Suryakumar Yadav. He is solidly built and loves to go for the big hits. He has a first-class strike-rate of 85.86 and once crashed 111 from 92 deliveries in a Ranji game as he thought there was no point just hanging around. Yadav, 21, was the fourth-highest run-getter in this Ranji Trophy with 754 runs from nine games at an average of 68.54. He can lift a fast bowler from outside off over midwicket or carve the same delivery through cover. His name made headlines for the wrong reasons during last year's Champions League Twenty20; there is no reason why he cannot give us the right ones this time.
Mandeep Singh (Kings XI Punjab)
With just a couple of first-class seasons behind him, Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh has already become a highly-rated name in domestic circles. The former India Under-19 vice-captain was the leading run-getter in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 268 runs from nine games at a strike-rate of 127.61. Till he was batting, with assured serenity, in the final, Baroda were tense. The moment he fell, the bowler Yusuf Pathan roared in celebration. Mandeep, 20, seems to have the ability to find gaps in the field consistently and while he is not a power-hitter, that does not deter him from scoring freely.
Robin Bist (Delhi Daredevils)
A good batsman is said to be capable of adapting to all three formats successfully. Robin Bist was in incredible touch in this Ranji Trophy for Rajasthan, becoming one of the few to have scored more than 1000 runs in a season in the tournament. He has a decent technique which allows him to switch between defense and attack modes in the longer format as the situation demands. Bist, 24, has a strike-rate of only 86.29 from 11 Twenty20 games, but this has been a breakthrough season for him, and he could well carry over that first-class form into the IPL.
Harshal Patel (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Rarely does a fast bowler take an eight-for in the batsman-dominated Ranji Trophy. If he does that in a knockout game, it is rarer. Doing it in consecutive knockout games is almost unheard of. Haryana's Harshal Patel, 21, tormented Karnataka and Rajasthan in the Ranji quarter-final and semi-final earlier this season, displaying admirable control over his swinging deliveries. He could have moved to the USA with his family but chose to pursue cricket in India. He could have continued to push for a place in the Gujarat Ranji side but chose to move to Haryana. What lies in store for him at the Royal Challengers?
Shami Ahmed (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Had Abu Nechim not pulled out of the Duleep Trophy final with an injury, Shami Ahmed would not have got the opportunity to showcase his talent in an important match. Less than eight sessions later, 22-year old Bengal fast bowler had eight wickets, four in each innings, and East Zone were celebrating their maiden Duleep title. He has a smooth run-up and release, does not hit the deck hard like his Bengal team-mate Ashok Dinda but still manages to get generous bounce and zip. Will he get some opportunities with the Knight Riders?
Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo