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4 new shooting stars of IPL 2024

Each season of the IPL brings new talent, and this year’s tournament has spotlighted four young players

While the highest paid player in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Mitchell Starc, went wicketless in his first two games of IPL 2024, debutant Mayank Yadav opened his season with devastating spells of 3/27 and 3/14. Riyan Parag, who had five insipid seasons before this, produced a match-winning 84 in 45 balls last week. The Indian Premier League lights up the sky with new shooting stars every season and it’s no different this time. Here are four stellar examples:

Mayank Yadav: At 102 for no loss, Punjab Kings (PBKS) were cruising to a target of 200 against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) on Saturday. Then, Mayank Yadav, 21, hurried English opener Jonny Bairstow into mistiming a pull to be caught in the deep. Yadav’s rib-tickling deliveries removed two other PBKS hitters, Prabhsimran Singh and Jitesh Sharma, to take 3/27 on debut. LSG dominated the game after that to win by a comfortable margin of 22 runs.

Yadav followed that up with an even more impressive 3/14 against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) on Tuesday. He delivered the fastest ball of the season at 156.7 kmph, surpassing his own mark of 155.8 from the previous game.

The IPL has unearthed several fast bowlers for India over the years, including Jasprit Bumrah who first made his mark at Mumbai Indians (MI). But Yadav’s debut is the most sensational. His idol, former South African speedster Dale Steyn, tweeted: “Mayank Yadav, where have you been hiding?”

Yadav has played in just one first class game, but LSG assistant coach Vijay Dahiya spotted his speed on the domestic circuit. Now the world has seen another Indian fast bowler breaking the 150-kmph barrier, after Umran Malik. Over 6ft tall, Yadav could have a bigger impact than Malik with his ability to hit the deck from that height. It’s too early to call him India’s Brett Lee, but he can rattle batsmen with bouncers like the Aussie used to do.

Rajasthan Royals’ Riyan Parag. (AFP)

Riyan Parag: Riyan Parag’s unbeaten 84 at a strike rate of 172 to take Rajasthan Royals (RR) to 185 against Delhi Capitals (DC) on 28 March was stunning in more ways than one. The match-winning knock, after RR’s top three batsmen fell cheaply, surpassed Parag’s total runs of 78 from 7 games at a strike rate of 118 last season. His clean hitting against both pace and spin vindicated RR coach Kumar Sangakkara’s decision to promote him to No.4 despite five lean seasons on the trot.

Parag had been slotted as a finisher previously, but the young batsman from Assam proved a damp squib. Nevertheless, Sangakkara felt he would click in a position where he could build his innings instead of hitting out prematurely, and that has made all the difference.

His 29-ball 43 in RR’s season opener against LSG followed by 84 not out against PBKS and 54 not out against MI chart a new trajectory for Parag, which could well lead to the Indian T20 World Cup squad. His takedown of DC’s South African fast bowler Anrich Nortje in a 25-run last over was staggering. He also looked assured against Bumrah on Monday after RR again lost three early wickets. We are seeing the unfurling of Riyan Parag 2.0.

Kolkata Knight Riders' Phil Salt.

Kolkata Knight Riders’ Phil Salt. (AP)

Phil Salt: Aggressive English opener Phil Salt was let go after a below par season for DC in 2023, scoring 218 in 9 games. Although that included a match-winning 87 against RCB, DC had more highly rated openers like David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, and Prithvi Shaw they wanted to invest in. After being released, Salt was unsold in the auction for 2024 and his IPL career appeared to be short-lived.

Then his English compatriot Jason Roy withdrew and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) brought Salt in as a replacement opener. He started the season with 54 in 40 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), propping up the KKR innings which was tottering at 51/4. Salt’s fifty and a Dre Russ finish of 64 in 25 balls took KKR to 208, which proved just enough for a 4-run win. Salt followed that up with cameos in the company of pinch-hitter Sunil Narine to give KKR opening stands of 86 in 6.3 overs and 60 in 4.3 overs against RCB and DC.

If he remains consistent through the season, Salt will be knocking on the door for entry into England’s T20 World Cup squad. The very day he was snubbed in the IPL auction on 19 December, he smashed a 48-ball century for England in the West Indies, which later prompted KKR to recruit him. A snub can be a great motivator.

Rajasthan Royals' Nandre Burger.

Rajasthan Royals’ Nandre Burger. (AFP)

Nandre Burger: With his ability to swing the new ball at 145 kmph, Protean left-arm fast bowler Nandre Burger had made an impression during India’s tour of South Africa. So it was surprising there were few takers for him in the IPL 2024 auction on 19 December. RR picked him up at his base price of 50 lakh on the very day he rocked India in a One Day International at Gqeberha with 3/20.

Now he has formed a lethal new ball attack with another left-arm swing bowler, the experienced Trent Boult from New Zealand. They had MI reeling at 20/4 on Monday at the Wankhede, from which the home team never recovered. With five wickets from his first three IPL games, Nandre Burger promises to be one of the finds of the season. And he came at one-fiftieth the price of Mitchell Starc, from whom KKR finally got RoI of two wickets in the third game.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru.

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