When the Kings XI Punjab were struggling at 62-5 in response to the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 159, it appeared the match was over.
However, one batsman stood up.
It was neither captain Glenn Maxwell, nor Eoin Morgan or David Miller who contributed a feeble 24 runs between them.
Instead, it was Indian opened Manan Vohra who took his team to the brink of an unforgettable victory. Vohra blasted a resilient 95 off 50 as he looked in sublime touch, hitting the ball to all parts of the ground against a side with the best bowling attack in the tournament.
When most people think of the IPL they would initially think about the big overseas players such as Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers. Yet the IPL is all about finding talented Indian players, while providing one of the greatest annual cricket spectacles. This article pays tribute to these domestic players, looking at the three best uncapped Indian players in this year’s IPL so far.
As mentioned earlier, Manan Vohra played one of the best innings of the tournament as he turned the tables on the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Vohra has been a key part of the Kings XI Punjab squad for several seasons and he has consistently delivered. He rose to fame after a prolific 2014 season where he amassed 324 runs in just eight matches, averaging over 40. After a worrying dip in form in 2015, and a stronger 2016, Manan Vohra is looking in exceptional touch this season.
Obviously his innings against the Sunrisers Hyderabad has been his stand out performance, but his 28 against the Kolkata Knight Riders also showed his talent. While 28 may seem like a rather low score, this was in fact the joint highest top-score for the Kings XI Punjab in that game as they faced a very strong bowling attack. Vohra looked comfortable against their new ball bowlers of Trent Boult and Umesh Yadav, but eventually fell to Piyush Chawla. Manan Vohra is a very talented player and hopefully he will be rewarded with an international cap one day.
Alongside Manan Vohra, Mumbai batsman Nitish Rana has impressed this tournament. At one point Rana actually had the orange cap, with his total of 193 runs now being the fifth highest in the competition. With Rohit Sharma looking in poor form after his injury, and with Mumbai’s opening partnership not looking comfortable, it was essential that Mumbai’s middle order performed.
Rana has led Mumbai’s charge to the top of the table, hitting two fifties with his top score of 53 coming in his most recent game. Against a weak Gujarat Lions bowling attack, Rana smashed his 53 at a strike rate of well over 140 and gave his side a very strong platform to go on to chase down the Lions total of 177. However, the fact that this top score is just 53 is a slight concern as he has been unable to convert his fifties into larger scores. That no doubt comes from experience and being capable of batting time, but Rana, who is just 23, will develop this aspect to his game fast.
The Delhi Daredevils left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has also had a great start to this year’s IPL. Nadeem made an instant impact in Delhi’s first match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he produced a magnificent spell of 4-0-13-1 against one of the best batting sides in the competition. An economy rate of just over 3 against a side containing Chris Gayle and Kedar Jadhav was truly remarkable, and the batsman he dismissed was the stand in captain Shane Watson. Also, it must be noted that Amit Mishra, the other Delhi spinner, conceded 32 runs in his two overs – showing that it was not an easy pitch for the spinners to bowl on.
This performance was not just a one-off. Aside form the four overs he bowled against Bangalore, he has bowled the other six at an economy rate of six runs per over. This has made him the most economical bowler in the tournament so far, as he is conceding less than five runs per over on overage. His main variations involve the flight of his delivery, and he is not afraid to toss the ball up to induce an ambitious shot from the batsmen. Nadeem, now 27 years of age, has an impeccable first class record in all three formats of the game. Coming from a nation who has spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, it is always going to be tough to be selected internationally.