The latest edition of the world’s richest cricket league is almost upon us. All eyes will be on UAE, as the Indian Premier League takes centre stage with some of the world’s biggest cricketing names in action. While the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, David Warner, Andre Russell and Jofra Archer will undoubtedly be the key men for their respective teams, there are several young players who will be aiming to emulate them.

The IPL has the ability to turn talented but unknown players into household names, as several youngsters have experienced over the years. Here we look at five under the radar players who can have a breakout season in this year’s IPL.

Josh Philippe – Royal Challengers Bangalore

After playing a starring role for the Sidney Sixers in last year’s Big Bash League, Josh Philippe was picked up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for his base price of ₹20 lakh. The 23 year old is rated very highly in Australia, and his performances in the BBL were enough to land him a spot in their squad for this month’s England tour.
Philippe did not play in any of the six matches, but he will now be aiming to use the IPL as a launching pad for his career. Bangalore boast a strong squad, with the likes of Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers, Chris Morris, Moeen Ali, Dale Steyn and Adam Zampa all fighting for the four overseas players spots. So getting into the team certainly won’t be easy for him.

But with his aggressive approach, wide array of shots, and ability to score at a very quick rate, Philippe can be their wildcard this season. He is more than capable of producing game changing knocks, as we saw in the BBL final, where he scored 52 runs off just 29 balls to lead the Sidney Sixers to victory.

The wicket-keeper batsman was recently touted as a potential solution to Australia’s middle-order woes by Adam Gilchrist. And there is no reason why he can’t slot into that role for the Royal Challengers Bangalore as well.

Tom Banton – Kolkata Knight Riders

Tom Banton has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 18 months, and is considered to be one of the most devastating young batsmen in the shortest format of the game. The 21 year old announced himself with eye-catching displays for Somerset in 2019. An England call-up soon followed for the prodigious batsman, followed by appearances in T20 leagues across the globe.

Now Banton is set to make his IPL debut with the Kolkata Knight Riders, where he will be hoping to make a similar impact. The dynamic batsman has drawn comparisons with Kevin Pietersen and Jos Buttler for his performances. And much like the latter duo, Banton is capable of smashing the ball to all corners of the park. His eye-catching stroke play, and inventive hitting is sure to appease Kolkata fans all over the world.

Getting into the team certainly won’t be easy for Banton, with Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russel and Pat Cummins likely to be their four main overseas players. But if anyone has the quality to dislodge the quartet, it’s Banton.

Yashasvi Jaiswal – Rajasthan Royals

He may only be 18, but that did not stop the Rajasthan Royals from paying ₹2.4 crore (US$340,000) for his signature in the IPL auction last year. The left-handed batsman has been breaking records left, right and centre since his school days. And after finishing as the leading run scorer at the 2020 Under-19 Cricket World Cup, he will have his sights set on making his mark at the IPL.

Rajasthan Royals are known for giving young players a chance, and considering the money they paid to sign him, they will certainly hoping that Jaiswal can make an immediate impact despite his young age. Jaiswal is primarily a top order batsman, and played as an opener for India U-19s at the World Cup. But it will be interesting to see what role he gets in the IPL. He is also capable of bowling leg-break spin, which could be quite useful on the dusty pitches of Dubai.

Jaiswal will also get the opportunity to work with and learn from world class batsmen like Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and David Miller at Rajasthan Royals, which will undoubtedly help his game both in the short and long term.

Ravi Bishnoi – Kings XI Punjab

Moving from the leading run scorer of the 2020 U-19 World Cup, to the highest wicket taker in that competition – Ravi Bishnoi is another player who could be set for a breakout tournament in this edition of the IPL. The 20 year old is a relentless attacking legspinner who can cause batsman all sorts of problems.

He took a whopping 17 wickets in just six games at the U-19 World Cup, enough for Kings XI Punjab to splash out ₹2 crore on him. He is now set to form a spin tandem with another excellent young bowler, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Bishnoi is considered to be one of the top bowling talents in India, and bowling on the spin-friendly pitch in UAE will certainly suit him. And so will being mentored by idol and Kings XI Punjab head coach Anil Kumble, one of India’s greatest ever spinners.

Ruturaj Gaikwad – Chennai Super Kings

Gaikwad has been around for a while, and was part of the Chennai Super Kings squad last year as well. Even though he did not feature in a single game, he was praised by MS Dhoni for having a ‘sharp cricket mind’. Now on the back of an impressive season in domestic cricket, the 23 year old batsman looks set to play an important role in the top order for the three time IPL winners in the absence of Suresh Raina.

Gaikwad has great technique, composure and does not try and take unnecessary risks. But he is not afraid of showing his aggression and hitting big shots either.

He has been the most prolific run scorer in List A cricket for India A over the last two years, and he will be looking to translate that form to the IPL, where a good showing could go a long way towards helping him get a call up for India.