The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 has reached its knockout stages with Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals making it to the playoffs.
The whole tournament was a mix of experienced players showing their caliber and as before, youngsters getting an opportunity and platform to showcase their skills and capabilities. Many other Indian domestic stalwarts, who have been doing well for their teams, got a chance to play with international cricketers and show their mettle.
As the IPL motto says, it provides a good way for youngsters to come out and show what they have against the best of national and international talents. This gives the Indian selectors options to pick for the upcoming series.
Here, we look at five such young performers of IPL 2018 who deserve opportunities with Team India
(All the stats updated till May 22, 2018)
SURYAKUMAR YADAV (MI)
Suryakumar Yadav had a superlative IPL with 512 runs in 14 matches with a best of 72 and strike rate of 133.33. It was a surprise move by the MI team management to hand the opening slot to Suryakumar after Ishan Kishan experiment failed. With Rohit Sharma hesitant to open, Suryakumar got the slot and flourished at the spot.
His batting acumen at the top was that of complimenting the hard-hitting Evin Lewis and carrying on playing long innings. Suryakumar knew he needed to take advantage of the first six overs of power play and modified his game according to needs. It helped that he came off a very good Mumbai T20 league. Suryakumar Yadav can fit anywhere in the batting lineup and would help a lot in the middle order for India. He can also hit the big shots when required in the final overs.
With many international T20 games coming up, the Indian team will only benefit from a good floating batsman like Suryakumar in the side.
RISHABH PANT (DD)
Rishabh Pant took the IPL 2018 by storm with 684 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 173.60, five fifties and one scintillating century. His highest score was 128* and he averaged 52.61 in the whole tournament and was the backbone of Delhi Daredevils batting.
He was in stupendous form and hit 68 fours and 37 sixes, showing that the hype he got from his performance in IPL 2017 was not a fluke and this time he was consistent in his batting and kept DD in the game. He even ended up with the Orange Cap for the most runs by the end of DD's season.
He was also safe behind the stumps and can now claim to the successor of MS Dhoni in the Indian T20I team.
MOHAMMED SIRAJ (RCB)
Mohammed Siraj’s international career for India has not been a very good one so far. His tendency to go for runs has hampered his progress in international cricket so far. However, with 11 wickets in 11 matches for RCB in IPL 2018, Siraj has banished the demons of his poor start to international cricket.
Siraj bowled with speed and accuracy and despite missing the mark in few early matches, bowled amazingly well to become the go-to bowler in death overs. His economy was 8.95 and best bowling was 3/25. Siraj can do wonders under good leadership and guidance from experienced players in the team.
KRUNAL PANDYA (MI)
Krunal Pandya played 14 games in the tournament for MI and scored 228 runs and took 12 wickets. His best score was 41* and best bowling figures were 3/28 with an economy of 7.07. Krunal has been the go-to man for his captain Rohit Sharma in previous two seasons of IPL and was the Man of the finals in IPL 2017.
Pandya has the ability to stem the flow of runs even while bowling in power plays and pick up wickets at crucial junctures. He also plays safe cricket and hit big shots when required with the bat down the order. Krunal will be the best all-rounder for the Team India in upcoming matches in both T20 and ODI formats.
SANJU SAMSON (RR)
Sanju Samson started his IPL 2018 amazingly and despite tapering off towards the end of the tournament, he has scored 391 runs in 14 innings with a best of 92* and strike rate of 138.65.
He is the batsman to carry the RR batting until Jos Buttler came into his own and took RR to the knock out round. With Buttler gone for national duty, the onus falls on Samson again and with the team in knockout stage, RR will look to him to score big against KKR in the eliminator on May 23.
Sanju Samson has been on the brink of making it into Team India, but drop in form at the most unwanted times and behavioral problems kept him at bay. But with this brilliant performance in the IPL 2018, he has staked a claim for a Team India place in upcoming matches and selectors should give an opportunity to young players when they are in good form and can do more for the team.