From Shahrukh Khan to Mohammed Azharuddeen: Young players to watch for in IPL 2021!

If you keep the battle between the teams aside, the Indian Premier League would indisputably be a factory of carving and unmasking the talents of young players and the history is evident that the products of IPL have shined at the international arenas. Over 13 seasons, the IPL has identified and presented some of the extraordinary and finest cricketers to India and we can expect that the world's richest cricket league would keep pumping in more talents to the fleet of men in blue. 

To name some players, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvnaesh Kumar, and T Natarajan are the products of IPL and they have now risen to a stage of pillaring the Indian team at home and overseas. In line with that, IPL 2021 has also got some young players in its club. The 14th season would begin on April 9 at 7.30 pm in Chennai and the season would be opened by Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Let's take a look at young players that you can watch out for in the current season, 

1) Shahrukh Khan: This 25-year-old Chennai cricketer, who is named after Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, is going to play for Punjab Kings in IPL 2021. He was one of the significant picks in the current season and Punjab bought him for Rs 5.25 crore after his extraordinary performance in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 where he played for his home state of Tamil Nadu. 

Punjab needs to fix its middle-order batting line-up and the team aims to fill the space through Shahrukh Khan. He has played 31 T20s, scoring 293 runs at a strike rate of 131.39 and he is also a leg-spinner and consistent space for him in the team would potentially bring out a young all-rounder, which would advance him towards getting placed in the Indian cricket team. 

2) Mohammed Azharuddeen: A native of Kasaragod in Kerala, 27-year-old Azharuddeen will be playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and he got huge attention when Kohli's team showed interest in him and bought him at his base price of Rs 20 lakh. Like Shahrukh Khan, he also impressed the selectors through his outstanding performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. 

Azharuddeen had smashed the second-fastest century in the recent edition of the trophy and he scored a ton in 37 deliveries against Mumbai. He played for Kerala and he finished the tournament with 214 runs from five innings, which had taken him to the cards of IPL Auctions. RCB's Skipper Virat Kohli had recently confirmed that he will be an opener this year after actual opener Devdutt Padikkal tested positive for the COVID-19 viral infection, the team can hope to build up the batting line-up with Azharuddeen, Kohli, AB de Villiers, and Glenn Maxwell. 

3) Abdul Samad: This 19-year-old player, who is a native of Jammu and Kashmir, will be playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He has been maintaining a strike rate of over 140 in all the T20 games he had played. He made his T20 debut for Jammu and Kashmir in the 2018-19 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on February 21, 2019. He was signed by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for the 2020 IPL and he made his IPL debut against Delhi Capitals. 

In the IPL 2020, Samad had batted at a strike rate of over 170 for the Sunrisers. Though being a batsman, he is also the right-arm leg-break bowler. He rose to prominence in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy and he is all set for his second IPL season.  

4) Lalit Yadav: This 24-year-old Delhi-based all-rounder will be playing for his home team Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021. He made his first-class debut for Delhi in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy and he was bought by the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020. The reason why he has to be watched out for in the current season is his recent performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. 

He finished the tournament with 152 runs in five innings at a whopping strike rate of 197.40. Apart from being a fierce batsman, Yadav is a right-arm off-break bowler and he has taken 27 wickets in T20 matches at an economy of 6.86. Delhi has bought him for Rs 20 lakh at his base price and he is surely a player to watch for in the current season. 

5) Chetan Sakariya: 22-year-old Sakariya, who is a native of Saurashtra, Gujarat, is going to play for the Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2021. The team has bought him for Rs 1.20 crore and he had drawn massive attention in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021, in which he ended as the sixth-highest wicket-taker. He has played 16 T20s from which he has taken 28 wickets including a five-wicket haul. 

He has developed his skills under the supervision of Glenn McGrath at the MRF Pace Foundation. After having a breakthrough in Saurashtra's U19 team, he has joined RCB as a net bowler in the IPL 2020, and now he is going to play his first IPL as part of the Royals. It has been expected that he can earn a place in the playing squad as Jofra Archer won't be available for the first few games. 

6) Lukman Meriwala: A native of Gujarat, 29-year-old Meriwala is all set to make his debut in IPL through the current season and he will be playing for Delhi Capitals. He played for Baroda in domestic cricket and is a left-arm fast-medium bowler, who was the leading wicket-taker of the 2013-14 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. 

He came to the spotlight in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and though his home team Baroda lost in the final to Tamil Nadu, Meriwala finished as the second-leading wicket-taker with 15 wickets from eight games. In February 2021, Delhi Capitals bought him for his base price of Rs 20 lakh and he will be strengthening the bowling line-up of Delhi along with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Ishant Sharma. 

7) Riley Meredith (Australia): Hobart native Meredith had stolen the spotlight when Punjab Kings bought him for Rs 8 crore at the IPL auctions. The 24-year-old had a base price of Rs 40 lakh and the main reason Punjab didn't want to leave him and shown interest to acquire him is that Meredith can bowl at over 150kmph. He caught attention from India when he delivered a strong show in the recently held Big Bash League, where he picked up 16 wickets from 13 games. 

Meredith has also become the most expensive uncapped overseas player bought at the auction. In January 2021, Meredith was named in Australia's T20 squad for their series against New Zealand and he has made his international debut for the Australia Cricket team in March 2021. By stepping into the IPL with a whopping Rs 8 crore tag, Meredith has become one of the significant overseas players in IPL 2021.