Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 05 May 2014 - 12:45pm IST
IPL Stars to Watch: Week 4
These players are likely to make an impact during the next eight days
Several Indian uncapped players have used the Pepsi Indian Premier League as a stage to impress cricket administrators of their abilities. Sanju Samson is one of them. In his debut season in 2013, the teenager from Trivandrum impressed the owners of the Rajasthan Royals to the extent they retained him prior to the 2014 IPL Players Auction. In the coming week, young Samson – who is bestowed with the gift of timing – will possibly come up against two of the world’s best bowlers in Sunil Narine and Dale Steyn. How will the 19-year-old fare against the two experienced pros? Apart from providing a stage to impress administrators and cricket fans, the IPL also gives the players the opportunity to compete with the world’s best and learn from them. Will young Samson come up triumphant against Narine, Steyn and co.?
Samson’s performance in Pepsi IPL 2014: 127 runs at a strike-rate of 113.39, 9 fours & 8 sixes
In just over a year since making his debut for India, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has seen the highs and lows typical to the lifecycle of a sportsman. He arrived with a bang, getting the ball to move prodigiously and picking up wickets by the bagfuls. Slowly, the swing disappeared and with it the ability to take wickets too. However, last week, the 24-year-old showed signs of rediscovering his ability to swing the ball. In his three outings during the last seven days, he returned with combined figures of 12-0-56-6, which haves put him right on top of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s most successful bowlers list this season. He got Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli out with outswingers and breached Rohit Sharma’s defense with a peach of an inswinger. In the coming week, Sunrisers Hyderabad tour Ahmedabad and Delhi where the surfaces are known to assist spinners. It will be interesting to see if Bhuvneshwar Kumar can get the ball to swing even on those surfaces.
Kumar’s performance in Pepsi IPL 2014: 10 wickets, economy-rate of 5.78.
Given how destructive he can be, Chris Gayle will always be on the list of players to watch out for. The Jamaican missed the first few matches but was in his merry ways once he was back in the RCB line-up. He isn’t 100 percent fit and still moves gingerly on the field, often turning down quick singles. Yet, the big shots keep flowing from his bat; 36 of the 47 runs he has scored in his first two outings have been through boundaries. RCB play three matches in the next week – against Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals. Let’s hope the big sixes continue to flow from his willow.
Gayle’s performance in Pepsi IPL 2014: 47 runs at a strike-rate of 180.76, 5 fours & 4 sixes.
Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock wasn’t among the Delhi Daredevils’ first-choice openers at the start of Pepsi IPL 2014. However, since being introduced into the playing XI in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the South African has made it hard for the team management to leave him out. In three innings so far, the 21-year-old has scored 48, 13 and 42 and in the company of Murali Vijay, and has seen his team off to good starts. In the next seven days, he will go up against the spin twins of the Chennai Super Kings and then against Kolkata Knight Riders’ Sunil Narine. Will de Kock – who has already been dismissed twice in three innings by spinners this season – survive his impending spin trial in the coming week?
de Kock’s performance in Pepsi IPL 2014: 106 runs at a strike-rate of 121.83.
Since finding a place in the Kings XI Punjab line-up, Sandeep Sharma has put up performances that must have made the team management rue not including him in the playing XI in the first couple of matches. The 20-year-old has been sensational, getting the ball to swing late and has picked up some big wickets in the past four matches. Among others, he has seen the back of Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle. At this level of cricket, with so much support staff and technological aid available to them, teams tend to study opponents very closely and pick out every player’s strengths and weaknesses pretty quickly. So will young Sharma be able to stay one step ahead of his opponents? Does he have the skills to outsmart the likes of Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers, who he is likely to bowl to in the coming week?
Sharma’s performance in Pepsi IPL 2014: 9 wickets, economy-rate of 6.42