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IPL 2024 trend - the high-impact emergence of the uncapped Indian player

Uncapped, even unknown, Indian players have had a greater impact in the first 30 games of IPL 2024 than in previous seasons

Deivarayan Muthu
The IPL is the premier destination for the world's best T20 talent. Hundreds of thousands of people pass through the turnstiles to watch MS Dhoni finish games with sixes, Virat Kohli score centuries, and Jasprit Bumrah nail yorkers. Alongside, an important trend has emerged this season: the rise of the uncapped Indian players. In the first 30 games of the season, the average impact of uncapped Indian players is 22.19 points, which is a 30% increase over last season (17.16), according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats.
Of the three players to have won multiple Player-of-the-Match awards this season, two are uncapped Indians. The first player - and the only one not named Bumrah - to have bagged a five-wicket haul this season is an uncapped Indian. An uncapped Indian is also challenging Kohli for the orange cap - remember, Ruturaj Gaikwad is the only uncapped Indian to have topped the IPL run charts over the years, having done so in 2021.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) have had uncapped Indian bowlers doing the job for them while Punjab Kings (PBKS) have turned to uncapped Indian batters for a lift-off. The Impact Player rule has also contributed to more opportunities for uncapped Indian players. Here are six, who have sparkled in IPL 2024 and promise more for the future.

Mayank Yadav (Lucknow Super Giants)

Mayank announced himself in IPL 2024 by becoming the first player in the history of the league to win the Player-of-the-Match award in his first two matches. The 21-year-old's victims included Jonny Bairstow, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green and Rajat Patidar, who recently made his international debut for India.
The sheer pace with which Mayank took out Maxwell and Green at the Chinnaswamy Stadium set the pulse racing. Mayank's scorching pace - he can repeatedly top 150kph - even reminded Maxwell of Shaun Tait in his prime. Former Australia allrounder and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) coach Tom Moody was so impressed with Mayank that he felt the tearaway would be "in the conversation" for the upcoming T20 World Cup. But an abdominal injury has somewhat tempered the buzz around him for now.

Shashank Singh (Punjab Kings)

Having picked Shashank for his base price of INR 20 lakh at the last auction, PBKS tried to offload him before they clarified the situation on social media.
In his second game for PBKS, against Gujarat Titans, Shashank did the heavy-lifting and then finishing, roles that Liam Livingstone might have been tasked with had he been fit. Shashank, 32, clubbed an unbeaten 61 off 29 balls to bring a chase of 200 within Kings' reach after they were 111 for 5 in the 13th over. Those who had pilloried Shashank during the auction were now singing praises of him and PBKS for picking the right man.
Shashank produced another power-hitting display in his very next innings, against SRH, taking on the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pat Cummins, but PBKS narrowly fell short in their chase this time. After years of toil in domestic cricket, Shashank has finally stepped into the IPL limelight.

Ashutosh Sharma (Punjab Kings)

Ashutosh, who had played only 15 T20s before making his IPL debut this season, has formed a deadly tag team with Shashank. They have forged stands of 43 off 22 and 66* off 27 so far. Then, even without Shashank at the other end, he made a sparkling cameo - 31 off 20 balls as an Impact Player - against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on an evening where no other PBKS player struck at more than 150.
Ashutosh's future was uncertain when he was dropped from the Madhya Pradesh team in 2020, but he has found a new home at Railways and now PBKS in the IPL. Amay Khurasiya, the former India batter and Ashutosh's childhood coach, was so confident of Ashutosh's ability that he told him: "Whenever you get a chance [in the IPL], you will be a hero!"
Ashutosh might have had to wait longer to be a hero had the Impact Player rule not been in place but he's making up for lost time.

Abhishek Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

Abhishek (197.19) has a higher strike rate than Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube this IPL. If he continues to tear up attacks, it might not be too long before he becomes a capped player.
His strike rate zooms up to 206.34 in the powerplay this season. Only his opening partner Travis Head (207.14 in 2024) and Ajinkya Rahane (208.33 in 2023) have done better than Abhishek across all seasons in that period of play.
The match against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Hyderabad perfectly demonstrated Abhishek's explosiveness and role clarity. With the target in front of him and the knowledge that the pitch would slow down later in the night, he tonked left-arm seamer Mukesh Choudhary for 27 runs in a single over.
And if he gets past the powerplay, he can be similarly explosive against spin. Against CSK and Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), Abhishek also opened the bowling, but it's the opening act with the bat that has bruised oppositions.

Riyan Parag (Rajasthan Royals)

In the IPL 2019 auction, RR had snapped up Riyan Parag for INR 20 lakh and then they were so excited by his potential they bid up to INR 3.8 crore to buy him back at the 2022 auction. After struggling in 2023, Parag has finally come of age this season.
He has started the season with three fifty-plus scores in five innings - all from No. 4 - which has helped RR adopt a flexible Impact Player strategy. Parag's run has reduced their reliance on Rovman Powell and allowed them to bring in someone like Nandre Burger as a sixth bowler.
Parag has also unlocked his power game this season, clattering 18 sixes in 183 balls. He had shown glimpses of that big-hitting during a sequence of seven successive fifties for Assam in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He has attributed his IPL success to his pre-season prep, which also included training with Zubin Bharucha, one of the senior coaches in the RR set-up, at their academy in Talegaon.

Harshit Rana (Kolkata Knight Riders)

Harshit has made an impact in each of the three games he has bowled in so far. He began the season with two-wicket hauls against SRH and RCB, the highlight being stopping Klaasen in the final over at Eden Gardens. Rana, though, didn't bowl against Delhi Capitals (DC) and missed the next game against CSK with injury, but marked his return with another terrific spell.
The scorecard will tell you that he went wicketless, but his defensive skills were critical to KKR's victory against LSG. Nicholas Pooran has hit a six every seven balls this IPL, but Rana shut him down on the day, restricting him to 16 off 11 balls with wide lines from over the wicket. His ability to bang the ball into the pitch rather than float it on a length is quite rare among uncapped Indian seamers. He is already on the India A radar, and a good IPL season will help him press for higher honours.
With inputs from Shiva Jayaraman
Stats updated until the RCB vs SRH game on April 15

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo