A Maxwell lookalike among five domestic unknowns
Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Daredevils
To emerge as your team's highest run-getter in your maiden first-class season is an achievement. To do it while playing for the most successful team in Indian domestic cricket is incredible.
Iyer, who scored 809 runs in the Ranji Trophy at an average of 50.56, was one of the few bright sparks in a topsy-turvy season for Mumbai. Based on his impressive showing in the season-opening Vijay Hazare Trophy, Iyer was handed a Ranji debut against Jammu & Kashmir. He walked in at number seven in that game, but by the time Mumbai bowed out in the semi-finals, Iyer had established himself as their regular number three.
At the IPL player auction in February, Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders were locked in a fierce bidding war for Iyer. By the time Knight Riders backed out, his price had soared to Rs 2.6 crore - 26 times his base price of Rs. 10 lakh.
Given his success against some of the quickest bowlers on the domestic circuit including Ashok Dinda and Veer Pratap Singh, there is a realistic chance of Daredevils giving Iyer a top-order slot.
KC Cariappa, Kolkata Knight Riders
Yuvraj Singh was the highest earner at the IPL auction, but he had to share headline space with Cariappa, a little known, 20-year-old mystery spinner from Coorg. A legspinner with a three-finger grip, Cariappa's variations, including an offbreak bowled with barely any change in his action, brought him plenty of success while playing for Bijapur Bulls in the Karnataka Premier League, and brought him to the attention of IPL insiders.
A bidding war ensued between Kolkata Knight Riders - whose performance analyst AR Srikkanth had been part of the Bulls dugout during the KPL - and Delhi Daredevils. Signed by Knight Riders for Rs. 2.4 crore, Cariappa joined an already impressive stable of spinners including Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Brad Hogg and Johan Botha.
Even though he'll face a lot of competition, it won't be a surprise to see Knight Riders giving Cariappa a game or two this season, since he's already troubled a couple of their own batsmen. Gautam Gambhir, who faced him in the nets during last year's Champions League T20, and Manish Pandey, who played against him in the KPL, found it difficult to handle his variations.
Sarfaraz Khan, Royal Challengers Bangalore
He has had disciplinary issues at the Mumbai junior teams he has been part of. His father-cum-coach has had numerous run-ins with officials, most notably over an age-fudging allegation. Sarfaraz Khan is only 17, but he's already used to controversy.
What cannot be disputed, however, is his range of strokes and six-hitting power. He gave a glimpse of it during India's 2014 Under-19 World Cup campaign, scoring 211 runs at an average of 70.33 and a strike rate of 105.50.
Sarfaraz made his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai last season, but was dropped after a couple of mediocre outings. But that didn't deter Royal Challengers from taking a punt on his talent and making him the youngest signing of the 2015 player auction.
KK Jiyas, Delhi Daredevils
Jiyas is known as the Kerala Maxwell, not because he hits the ball as powerfully as the Australia allrounder, but because of a supposed facial resemblance. But it's Jiyas' skill as a chinaman bowler that brought him to Daredevils' attention.
Had Daredevils managed to land Cariappa's signature, Jiyas might have gone unsold at the auction. But he was destined to be part of the IPL jamboree. Jiyas hasn't yet played for Kerala's senior side, and will hope the IPL will give him his big break. He may have to wait a while, though, given Daredevils' depth of spin resources, with Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir and Shahbaz Nadeem as specialist options apart from JP Duminy's part-time offbreaks.
Chama Milind, Sunrisers Hyderabad
While the rest of his Sunrisers teammates were preparing for the IPL, Milind was bowling for Hyderabad in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, in the dry heat of Cuttack. Though he couldn't propel Hyderabad into the final of the Twenty20 tournament, the left-arm quick made a big individual impact, finishing it on top of the wicket-takers' list with 17 at an average of 14.58.
Milind has not tasted too much success in his handful of first-class appearances so far, but he has proven ability in the shorter formats. He led India's pace attack at last year's Under-19 World Cup and picked up a hat-trick against Tamil Nadu in the South Zone leg of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Milind was part of the Sunrisers set-up last year too, but didn't get to play a game. He will hope he can impress the team management enough this time around to make a long-awaited debut.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo