The 13th edition of the Indian Premier League is all set to begin next week after a prolonged delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. All eight teams landed in the UAE almost 20 days ago, and have since then been preparing intensely for the tournament that promises to be high on action.
Every edition of the tournament sees a number of underrated players raise their game and perform, and this year too we can expect exciting cricketers to leave their mark. We look at a few underrated players from various teams who could be an indispensable member of their respective teams.
Riyan Parag (Rajasthan Royals): One of the most promising players in the IPL, Parag played seven games last year and impressed with his fearless hitting with the bat in the death overs. He is expected to play a bigger role this year in the absence of Ben Stokes, who is likely to miss the season due to personal reasons. Parag picked up two wickets with his leg spin as well last year, besides scoring 160 runs.
The 18-year old is one of the players to watch out for and has already been touted as the next big thing. He has all the skills to make IPL 2020 a career-defining tournament for him.
Krishnappa Gowtham (Kings XI Punjab): The all-rounder from Karnataka made a name for himself as an accurate spin bowler in the middle overs and as a big hitter when he played for the Rajasthan team. However, he was released ahead of IPL 2020, and could potentially have a season to remember this year. The Punjab team does not have the best spin attacks, with only Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Ravi Bishnoi in the ranks. Hence, Gowtham is expected to be a regular member in the XI.
The Punjab unit also does not have the strongest middle orders, and Gowtham will be expected to play the role of a pinch-hitter – a role that he can fulfil to perfection.
Nitish Rana (Kolkata Knight Riders): The youngster will have a vital role to play for KKR in IPL 2020. Not only will he bat in the top three, he will also be expected to contribute regularly with his off-spin. The Delhi batsman was the star for the franchise last year, scoring 344 runs at a strike rate of 146.38 and an average of 34.40.
Along with Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav, who will lead the spin department, Dinesh Karthik could turn to Rana to send down a few overs on the slow tracks in the UAE.
Washington Sundar (Royal Challengers Bangalore): This year the Royal Challengers Bangalore team have a number of all-rounders, who lend balance and depth to the unit. Washington Sundar is one such all-rounder who can be a force to reckon with on the low and low tracks that will be available for the edition.
Not only can the spinner send down overs in the powerplay overs, he can also score quick runs in the fag end of the innings. RCB have struggled to find a suitable spin bowling partner for Yuzvendra Chahal over the years, and they have also struggled to find a finisher who can regularly finish off games with the bat. Sundar, along with Chris Morris and Shivam Dube, could all shine this season, and take RCB to their maiden IPL title.
Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings): The Englishman might get overshadowed in the Chennai Super Kings team by more illustrious all-rounders, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, but he can be a match-winner on his day as well, besides adding variety to the line-up. Curran is a left-arm swing bowler and can be a real threat while opening the bowling alongside Deepak Chahar.
With Suresh Raina out of the edition, the youngster can also be pushed higher up the order, where his fluent stroke play and fearless batting can give his team a solid foundation.
Keemo Paul (Delhi Capitals): The West Indian, who was retained by the Delhi Capitals for IPL 2020, had a decent outing last year where he finished with nine wickets from eight matches. The all-rounder has a handy slower ball that could wreak havoc on the slow wickets along with a pacey yorker that makes it tough for the rivals to score off him.
Paul can also smash the ball a long way with the bat, and could prove to be a utility player for the Capitals team down the order.