Some of India’s top cricketers are currently in England, where they will be playing a Test series against Joe Root & Co. Another set of Indian cricketers, on the other hand, are in Sri Lanka for a limited-overs tour. India and Sri Lanka will play three ODIs and as many T20Is starting July 13. All six matches will be played in the capital city of Colombo.
With some of the big names playing in England, a lot of youngsters have been roped in for the tour of Sri Lanka. As many as six uncapped players have been named in the squad - Devdutt Padikkal, Chetan Sakariya, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Varun Chakravarthy. Others in the squad are Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, and Navdeep Saini.
Let us look at five young players to watch out for on tour in no particular order.
Chetan Sakariya grabbed attention at the Indian T20 Premier League 2021 auction, where Rajasthan Royals bought him for INR 1.2 crore multiple times over his base price of INR 20 lakh. In the first leg of the tournament, the left-arm speedster from Saurashtra took seven wickets in seven matches and bowled at an economy of 8.22.
The lucrative T20 league gig came on the back of Chetan’s impressive performances in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy 2020-21, where he picked up 12 wickets in five games, including a match-winning spell of 5-11 against Vidarbha. His economy rate in the tournament was just 4.90.
Chetan made his first-class debut in 2018 and has since then played 15 matches, from which he has 41 wickets. In List A, the 22-year-old has 10 wickets in seven games, and in T20s, he has 35 wickets in 23 games. With all those impressive numbers behind him, Chetan looks well set to make his India debut on the tour of Sri Lanka.
The elegant southpaw has churned out some fine performances for Team Bangalore in the last two seasons, scoring 668 runs in 21 games, including a century and five fifties. Padikkal’s T20 League debut resulted from his terrific performances in domestic cricket for Karnataka over the years.
The 20-year-old made his first-class debut in 2018 and averages over 50 in the four-day format. In List A cricket, Padikkal has 1387 runs in 20 innings, while in the shortest format, he has 1466 runs in 39 innings.
In the Vijay Hazare Challenger Trophy 2019-20, the young batsman scored 609 runs in 11 matches and finished as the highest run-getter in the tournament. This was followed by another streak of impressive performances in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy, where he scored 580 runs from 12 games at a strike rate of 175.75. Padikkal was subsequently picked up by Team Bangalore next year.
The right-arm spinner from Tamil Nadu was picked up by Team Punjab for a whopping INR 8.4 crore in 2019, but he played just one game that season. It was in 2020 when Varun grabbed highlights after picking 17 wickets for Team Kolkata. The team subsequently retained him for the 2021 season, where he scalped seven wickets in seven matches at an economy of 7.82.
After impressing in the T20 league, the mystery spinner received his maiden call-up for the tour of Australia, but an injury sidelined him. He was then picked in the squad for the series against England but failed to clear the fitness test. Chakravarthy will be hoping to don the India jersey finally. He has the ability to trouble batsmen in the middle overs with his bag of variations and is a likely debutant during the Sri Lanka tour.
The opening batsman from Pune has been a consistent performer for Maharashtra in domestic cricket over the last few years. Gaikwad’s contract with Team Chennai in 2019 came on the back of impressive performances in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy 2018-19, where he was the second-highest run-scorer with 419 runs at a strike rate of 146.50. However, the right-hander had to wait a year before making his T20 league debut in 2020. Gaikwad has played 13 matches for Team Chennai in the last two seasons, from which he has 400 runs, including five half-centuries.
Gaikwad made his first-class debut back in 2016 against Jharkhand and has since then notched up 1349 runs in 36 innings. In List A cricket, the opener has 2681 runs in 58 innings, while in T20s, he averages 32.60 in 46 games. He was also the third-highest run-getter in the 2016-17 Vijay Hazare Trophy with 444 runs in seven matches at an average of 63.42
Not to forget, he has also been a consistent performer for India A. In July 2019, Gaikwad scored 677 runs from 8 games at an average of 112.83 in the series against Sri Lanka A and West Indies A.
An aggressive left-handed batsman and a part-time off-spin bowler, Nitish Rana lit up the 2015–16 Syed Mushtaq Trophy, where he scored 299 runs for Delhi and hit 21 sixes – the most by any batsman that year.
Rana made his List A and T20 debuts for Delhi in the 2012-13 season but had to wait another three years before making his Ranji Trophy debut in 2016. He was impressive in his debut first-class season, making a half-century in his debut game and finishing as Delhi’s highest run-scorer with 557 runs, including a century and three fifties.
He was bought by Team Mumbai Indians in 2016 and later joined Team Kolkata in 2018. From 2016-2021, Rana has scored 1638 runs from 67 T20 league games and has also taken seven wickets.
The left-hander’s national call-up has come on the back of his recent form, which has been consistently impressive. Rana scored 201 runs in seven matches of the Indian T20 Premier League 2021, and before that, lit up the Vijay Hazare trophy 2020-21 with 398 runs.
All in all, the 27-year-old has played 38 first-class games, 58 List A games, and 122 T20s, from which he has 2266, 1940, and 2846 runs, respectively. He has also taken 76 wickets in domestic cricket.