The upcoming stars of Indian cricket

Ever since the first edition of the Indian Premier League in 2008, it has always produced some exciting talents. For the unknown players who could not flourish due to lack of a proper platform, or for some unfortunate cricketers who were languishing in the wilderness, the cash-rich league has come as a ‘blessing’ from heaven.

The likes of Shaun Marsh, MS Gony, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Michael Lumb, Manish Pandey and Suarabh Tiwari came into the national reckoning riding on the back of their superb performance in the IPL in the past three years.

IPL-4 is no exception. It has already thrown up some new names in the game like Paul Valthaty and Ambati Rayudu.’s Biswajit Jha takes a look at the future stars who made national headlines with their performances.

Paul Valthaty:

When Paul Valthaty came to open the innings with Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist in place of Shaun Marsh, people were surprised. Little did they know that after just one and a half hours, the 27-year-old unknown Mumbaikar would set the stadium on fire by slamming an impressive superfast hundred against Dhoni and Co. to help the struggling Punjab side beat the defending champions.

According the Valthaty, who played for Under-19 India team almost a decade back, it’s like a rebirth as a cricketer. Despite having started his cricketing career on a promising note, the swashbuckling opener had to wait till he turned 27 to hog the limelight.

Regarded highly by his coach Balwinder Singh Sandhu at Dilip Vengsarkar Academy, Valthaty has seen the darkest period of his life through.

During his Under-19 days, he was hit by a rising ball on his eye and lost his vision temporarily. But his dogged determination brought back him on to the cricket field despite being in the sidelines for three and half years.

Valthaty’s scintillating knock would definitely help him regain the limelight and stardom which cricket in India is all about. Since he is also an all-rounder, don’t be surprised this time if you find him in the Indian T20 squad very soon.

Ambati Rayadu:

Like Valthaty, Ambati Rayudu was hailed as a future India player as soon as he began playing for India at Under-19 level. Rayudu was selected to represent India`s Under-19 team for the tour of England in 2002 and scored 177 and 80 to lead his team to a 3-0 victory.

Though he was not struck by any tragedy like Valthaty, he soon faded away from the scene like many talented cricketers in India.

While his talent was never questioned, people in the Hyderabad cricket circles raised fingers at his temperament and attitude. As his relation with the BCCI bigwig Shivlal Yadav deteriorated, he had no option but to return to his home state. He then joined the Indian Cricket League where he played some superb knocks for Hyderabad Heroes.

He was soon snapped up by Mumbai Indians IPL team in 2010 and was assigned the additional duty of wicket-keeping.

A blistering unbeaten 63 off 50 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore, under the watchful eyes of Sachin Tendulkar, may have given a fresh lease of life to Rayudu`s aspiration to play for India.

Rayudu, who currently plays for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy, captained the India Under-19 team in the 2004 Under-19 Cricket World Cup and also became a regular in the India-A squad.

Iqbal Abdulla:

Kolkata Knight Riders’ left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla has played a pivotal role in his team’s resurgence in the fourth edition of the IPL so far. His three for 24 in the nine-run win over the Deccan Chargers was a kind of performance that allowed KKR to shine in the initial matches despite not having a big name in the spin department.

A member of the Under-19 Cup winning team of 2008, this 21-year-old Mumbai spinner performed consistently for Mumbai Ranji side for the past couple of years. He also adds value to any side with his batting in the late order.

“He is a quality spinner and he`s got great character. If he can keep his head on his shoulders, he should go a long way,” new Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir said about the spinner.

At a time when a good left-arm spinner in India is a rare commodity, Abdulla’s performance should earn him a national call-up in the shorter formats of the game.

Mayank Agarwal:

Though Mayank Agarwal has not done anything special like Valthaty, his big-hitting talent was evident when he hit a breezy 33 off 24 balls to set the tempo for Challengers’ chase against Kochi Tuskers Kerala. His nonchalant approach against champion spinner Muralitharan won him many fans in India.

“We have seen there is something special in him. He has played for India U-19, people have recognised his pedigree and he went out and played with no fear. He played his own game, the shot off Muralitharan was an amazing one. He is someone to watch out for the future,” said his RCB skipper Daniel Vettori.

Agarwal was the only star emerging from India’s disappointing Under-19 campaign in 2010. A fearless batsman, who hit 160 in a one-dayer in Australia, Mayank has modelled his batting on Virender Sehwag. His man of the series in Karnataka Premier League earned him a spot in Royal Challengers Bangalore. There is little doubt that he is a future Indian batting star.

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