Mon, 02 Oct 2023

New Delhi [India], May 31 (ANI): The 16th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to a conclusion befitting a league of its stature with a thrilling final at Ahmedabad between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the defending champions Gujarat Titans (GT), with the MS Dhoni-led Men in Yellow overcoming Hardik Pandya's team by five wickets in a last-ball thriller.

As it has always done in its 16-year run, IPL showcased the very best of Indian domestic cricket.

The unheard stories, unseen talent from the Indian domestic circuit got its chance to shine at the highest level and mingle with some of the greatest minds in the sport and the result was: the birth of a fearless, no-nonsense and unpredictable generation next of Indian cricket right before our eyes.

The performances of these domestic players made IPL 2023 a must-watch event. The stories of a lot of these talents can inspire every cricketer in this country and worldwide, be it the aspirants to never give up, the ones settled and established to work harder to keep their spot safe, grow as a cricketer and the ones who fell out of favour to not lose hope and grab every opportunity by its throat.

Here is a look at the domestic stars that entertained millions and inspired through their performances and stories in IPL 2023:-Tushar Deshpande and Shivam Dube (Chennai Super Kings)The bulky 28-year-old pacer Tushar Deshpande did not really have a great stint during his earlier season with Delhi Capitals, as he took only three wickets in five matches for them. After being bought by CSK in 2022, he played only two matches that year and took a wicket.

However, the IPL 2023 turned out to be a breakout season for him.

Despite his tendency to give away extra runs and leak runs at a high economy rate, Tushar received heavy backing from skipper MS Dhoni and the coaching staff. The result was: Tushar ended as sixth highest wicket-taker, taking 21 scalps in 16 matches at an average of 26.85 and an economy rate of 9.92, with best figures of 3/45. He also emerged as the leading wicket-taker for his side, playing a key hand in his team's fifth IPL title.

Shivam Dube, the left-hander had a rather unremarkable stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and a decent stint with Rajasthan Royals. After being purchased by CSK in 2022, he had a decent outing with 289 runs in 11 matches with two fifties. But there were much better performers, both in IPL and for Team India. His stats were not doing much for him to push his case for a Team India comeback after a brief, forgettable stint in 2019-20, which saw him being slammed for lack of footwork.

But in the 2023 season, Dube worked on his power-hitting and was played as a pinch hitter. This move paid dividends as Dube emerged as the third-highest scorer for CSK, next to Ruturaj Gaikwad (590) and Devon Conway (672 runs).

He scored 418 runs in 16 matches at an average of 38.00 and a strike rate of over 158. He also hit three fifties, with best score of 52. Dube smashed 35 towering sixes in the season, sitting next to RCB skipper Faf Du Plessis (36 sixes) in the charts. With the world aware of his hitting abilities and Dhoni backing him in his role, it would not be a surprise if he wears India's Blue colours soon.

-Sai Sudharsan (Gujarat Titans)The 21-year-old southpaw from Tamil Nadu was given a role to replicate New Zealand great Kane Williamson's anchor-like gameplay. While it seemed hard to fill Kane's shoes after he left due to injury, Sudarshan played the role perfectly. In eight matches, he scored 362 runs at an average of 51.71 and an SR of 141.40. He also hit three fifties, with his 96 off 47 balls in the IPL final showcasing that he also knows to switch gears when needed. He ended as the team's third-highest scorer, next to Wriddhiman Saha (371 runs) and Shubman Gill (890 runs).

-Ayush Badoni (Lucknow Super Giants)The 23-year-old batter grabbed eyeballs with some solid knocks from LSG last season, which made skipper KL Rahul declare Badoni as their "Baby AB" for his strokeplay which had the audacity of South African great AB de Villiers. Badoni upped his game in the second season, scoring 238 runs in 12 innings at an average of 23.80 and a strike rate of 138.37, with one gutsy half-century against CSK. The season saw him play the roles of an anchor and pinch-hitter well.

-Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera and Akash Madhwal (Mumbai Indians)MI is a five-time IPL champion for a reason. The reason is that they are the 'talent factory' of IPL. Incredible scouting, coaching and backing from veterans combine to create stars out of lesser-known players.

Tilak Varma, who impressed in MI's disappointing 2022 season with 397 runs in 14 matches at an average of 36.09, continued from where he left in the final season. Be it his fighting 84 against RCB while wickets were falling at the other end or his brief hard-hitting cameos or him being a reliable batting partner, all shades of Tilak were there to see for the fans. He emerged as a pillar of the MI middle-order, scoring 343 runs in 11 matches at an average of 42.88 at a massively-improved SR of 164.11, with one half-century. He emerged as the third-highest run-scorer for MI next to Cameron Green (452 runs) and Ishan Kishan (454 runs). Tilak could very well be a future Team India mainstay and this season shows it.

Nehal is the second example. This Punjab batter, 22 years of age had no T20 experience while he was bought by MI. He repaid this faith shown in him by playing some crucial knocks for MI. In 14 matches, he scored 241 runs at an average of 26.77 with a strike rate of over 145, which included two fifties. Wadhera looks all set for a breakthrough next season.

Madhwal, the 29-year-old pacer from Uttarakhand served as a net bowler for RCB and MI. This season proved to be a big break for him. In the second half of the league, Madhwal compensated for the absence of stars like Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah with his pin-point yorkers and excellent death overs bowling. In eight matches, he took 14 wickets at an economy rate of 8.58 and an average of 15.64. His 5/5 against LSG in the playoffs in the most economic five-wicket haul in IPL history. With this explosive bowling spell, he set some other records in IPL history, also becoming the first player to take a five-wicket haul in IPL playoffs. The Madhwal-Bumrah combo could be a treat to watch next season!-Yashasvi Jaiswal, Dhruv Jurel (Rajasthan Royals)Yashasvi had a breakout IPL 2023 after showing some glimpses of his brilliance in the previous few seasons. He emerged as the fifth-highest scorer in the tournament, highest scorer for his side with 625 runs in 14 matches at an average of 48.07 and a strike rate of 163.61. He also scored one century and five fifties, with best score of 124. The talks to include Jaiswal in India's ODI and T20 squad have started already. He has flown to England as a standby player for India's World Test Championship final against Australia. Big things are in store for Jaiswal and we are all here for it.

Dhruv Jurel, a 22-year-old domestic player from Uttar Pradesh did a solid job for RR as a finisher. For MS Dhoni fans who saw the legend back in the day swing his Reebok bat with full force for towering sixes, Jurel produced a similar sight with a Rebook bat in his hand. He also considers MS Dhoni as one of his idols. His 152 runs in 13 matches came at a strike rate of over 172, with best score of 34. These stats do very little justice to him and do not really show the impact he had on the field with his hitting abilities. Jurel could be in contention for the 'Finisher' spot in T20Is in the future. All he needs is some more consistency next season.

-Vijaykumar Vyshak (Royal Challengers Bangalore)RCB continues to produce some really good bowlers for Team India's future line-up. This 26-year-old Karnataka pacer took 3/20 on his debut against Delhi Capitals, coming as a replacement for an injured Rajat Patidar. Though he leaked runs at times, he ended the season with nine wickets at an average of 28.11.

-Rinku Singh, Syuash Sharma (Kolkata Knight Riders)The UP domestic cricket star Rinku Singh has emerged as one of the most wholesome stories of this season. Battling poverty, lack of support for his passion, Rinku showcased his abilities to the fullest in IPL 2023 after giving a tiny glimpse of it last season. Intent, self-belief and confidence, these words used during post-match presentations, had become tiring for many fans to listen to. Rinku gave these words a new meaning and epitomised them on the field.

With 474 runs in 14 matches at an average of 59.25, four half-centuries and a strike rate of 149.52, Rinku's consistency and composure as a finisher grabbed the attention of many. Him smashing Yash Dayal of GT for five successive sixes in the final over of a 200-plus run chase will go down as one of the league's iconic moments. Rinku outdid a star-studded KKR line-up to emerge his side's top run-scorer and within the top 10 batters of the season.

During the run-chases, Rinku proved to be a different entity. In seven run-chases, he scored 305 runs at an average of 152.50 and a strike rate of 174.28. All of his four fifties came during these chases. He smashed 20 fours and 22 sixes in these run-chases.

Turning attention to bowling, Suyash Sharma, a spinner with no domestic cricket experience turned out to be really good for KKR. He could fill the gap left by veteran spinner Sunil Narine in future, as he is in the twilight of a legendary career. On his debut, he bamboozled a solid RCB batting line-up with a spell of 3/30. He ended the league with 10 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 8.23. He played a key role in KKR's fightback in the second half of IPL after a disappointing first half, complementing spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Narine really well to form a scary spin trio. This trio turned out to be KKR's biggest asset this season.

-Prabhsimran Singh (Punjab Kings)This Punjab batter, 22-year-old, could be short on runs sometimes, but never short on an intent to put up a fight and attack the bowlers. He emerged as PBKS's second-highest run-maker next to skipper Shikhar Dhawan (373 runs). He scored 358 runs at an average of 25.57 and a strike rate of above 150. He scored one century and a half-century this season. His 103 against Delhi Capitals on a raging turner of a surface in Delhi will go down as one of the finest IPL performances ever, given the tough circumstances it came in.

-Abdul Samad, Mayank Markande (Sunrisers Hyderabad)The Jammu and Kashmir batter Abdul Samad had shown some glimpses of his power-hitting for SRH in previous seasons. But he never really maintained that consistency throughout a season. In a disappointing 2023 season, Samad's hitting abilities, his memorable six-on-the-final-ball finish against RR are two of the most memorable things for an SRH fan. In 9 matches, he scored 169 runs at an average of over 42 with a strike rate above 132. His best score was 37. He played some crucial knocks for his side this season. Samad looks set for a breakout 2024 season.

After some forgettable stints in IPL previously, Mayank turned a new leaf in his career with his performances this season. He took 12 scalps in 10 matches at an average of 25 and an economy rate of 7.89, with best figures of 4/15. He finished as the second-highest wicket-taker for SRH, next to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16 wickets). (ANI)

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