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Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 26 May 2014 - 07:08pm IST

IPL 2014: Best Debutants

These fresh faces took the league by storm in their maiden season

Lendl Simmons

Performance in Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 7, Runs – 327, Strike Rate – 132.38, Best – 100*

Called up midway through the season as a replacement for JalajSaxena, Lendl Simmons stamped his presence in his initial IPL season, and how! Until then, the highest the Mumbai Indians had realised from any of their openers was 33. Even as a pair, MI’s best opening partnership until Simmons joined the team was 25. But with the introduction of Simmons in the MI XI, the team found a solution to one-half of the opening problem. After a slow start to the season – when he scored a run-a-ball 38 against the Chennai Super Kings – Simmons steadily climbed up the run-scorers charts to become Mumbai Indians’ third-highest run-getter, despite playing only half his team’s quota of 14 league matches. After half-centuries against the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals, Simmons’ moment of glory came in the match against Kings XI Punjab when he became the first player to touch the three-figure mark in Pepsi IPL 2014. The Trinidadian scored 100 off 61 balls, and dominated his team’s chase of 157 against KXIP, and helped them remain in the race tothe Playoffs.

Shreyas Gopal



Performance in Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 4, Wickets – 6, Economy – 8.07

How’s this for a statistic: No representative team ShreyasGopal has been part of so far in his brief career has ever lost a match. The Karnataka team that he was a part of won five matches and drew theirRanji Trophy semi-final against Punjab, while the Mumbai Indians have won each of their four matches they’ve fielded young Shreyas in.

The leg-spinner from Karnataka is more than just a carrier of good luck. A very successful cricketer at the Under-19 level, Shreyasmade his debut for his state side, Karnataka, in the Ranji Trophy in 2013, and made an impression immediately, showcasing very good temperament, picking up big wickets and striking at regular intervals. He was an integral part of the Karnataka team that won the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup. A hat-trick in the Irani Cup was by followed a bid from the Mumbai Indians in the Pepsi IPL Player Auction 2014. The 20-year-old was not among the preferred starters for the team and did not get his opportunity until the last week of the league season. But when he did get a chance, he grabbed it with both hands and made it count. The leg-spinner picked up six wickets in his four appearances, including the big scalp of Glenn Maxwell in MI’s match against Kings XI Punjab. One would generally expect young bowlers to be nervous when bowling to dangerous batsmen like Maxwell, especially given the kind of damage he had caused earlier in the tournament. Not Shreyas, who wasn’t rattled, held his nerve and completely foxed the Australian with a beautifully tossed up wrong ‘un, which the batsman played too early and ended up offering a simple return catch to the bowler.

Mitchell Starc



Performance in Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 14, Wickets – 14, Economy – 7.49

Only five players featured in every one of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 14 matches in Pepsi IPL 2014. That Mitchell Starc was one of them explains that he was a key member of the team. In his first season in the IPL, the Australian assumed the role of the spearhead of the bowling attack. He kept things tight in the initial overs (only conceding runs at a rate of 6.57 runs per over when the field restrictions were in force) and then returned to do a very good job in the death overs. Only two other overseas bowlers picked up more wickets in Pepsi IPL 2014 than Starc, who finished the season with 14 wickets from as many matches. Half his tally of wickets came while bowling in the final quarter of the innings, in which period he went for only 8.52 runs per over. What was the damage caused by him?GautamGambhir, Aaron Finch, David Warner and Quinton de Kock were among his victims.

Akshar Patel



Performance in Pepsi IPL 2014 | Matches – 14, Runs – 60, Best – 42*, Wickets – 14, Economy – 6.48

Who would have said prior to the start of Pepsi IPL 2014 that two Indian lads would be Kings XI Punjab's most successful bowlers. Sandeep Sharma has provided breakthroughs with the new ball and is in the race for the Purple Cap. The one other bowler in the KXIP ranks who has impressed with his bowling is the young Akshar Patel. In his first season in the IPL, the 20-year-old from Gujarat has impressed with his temperament and discipline. He has picked up 14 wickets in as many matches and has not gone for too many runs. What has impressed most is his discipline with the ball; he has often stuck to a stump-to-stump line and that approach has reaped rewards. Batsmen have found it difficult to differentiate between the delivery that turns and the one that goes straight on with the arm; half of his 14 scalps this season have been when the ball has crashed into the stumps and that in itself conveys how he has not given the batsmen too many loose deliveries. While he was generally used as a specialist spinner, Akshar gave signs to his team management that he isn’t a bad batsman too, when he scored an unbeaten 42 and guided his team home in a tricky run-chase against the Delhi Daredevils.

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