Predicting Best U-23 XI to be part of IPL 2021

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is by far the greatest platform for budding young cricketers from around the world to showcase their talent and earn a name for themselves. Having performed exceedingly well for their respective franchises, these players earned their much-deserved maiden call-up to the national side and became a mainstay there. This cycle has been repeated over the 13-years long history of the IPL and it won’t be different in the new season as well. That said, plenty of exciting new faces will be part of IPL 2021 along with the established experienced and young players at the league. On that note, let’s have a look at the best U-23 XI in IPL 2021:

Openers: Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill

Just in his early 20s, Shaw has become a mainstay for DC at the top of the order and also played international cricket for India. Having started IPL 2020 on a high, Shaw’s form tapered off during the second half of the league stage, resulting in his exclusion from the XI. The bad run persisted in Australia as well and things were looking haphazard as far as his cricketing career was concerned. But as they say, ‘ Form is temporary but class is permanent, Shaw strolled his way back to scoring runs and even became the highest run-getter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, 2021, yet again earning the reputation of being the no.1 opener in the current DC set-up.

As for Gill, the last couple of months have been bitter-sweet, who performed to his potential in Australia, but failed to emulate the same in the series against England. The youngster possesses a solid technique and isn’t afraid to take on the best in the business, an aspect that sees him as the frontrunner for a future KKR captaincy stint. Unlike other youngsters at the league, Gill likes to bat in a conservative fashion in the powerplay overs, preserving his wicket for a later onslaught. The approach as expected hasn’t done any good to the fate of the side and that if corrected from Gill for the new season, there is no one who can stop him from topping the run-scoring charts.

Middle-order: Ishan Kishan, Priyam Garg and Riyan Parag

Having dominated IPL 2020 and also made his dream India debut in the T20I series against England, Kishan’s cricketing career has just taken off and is on its journey upwards. The no.4 position in the MI line-up has liberated him and allowed Kishan to play in a manner peculiar to him. In the absence of Rohit, he even opened the innings for the franchise with similar success and displayed the flexible nature of his batsmanship. Come the new season, the MI management won’t expect anything lesser from Kishan, who may even get to don the wicketkeeping gloves until de Kock completes his quarantine.

The captain of the Indian U-19 side which reached the finals of the U-19 WC held in South Africa in 2020, Garg showed sparks of brilliance playing in the middle order for SRH. His attacking fifty against CSK last season demonstrated another gear to his batsmanship, who could tee off if the situation demands so. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do it on a consistent basis, augmenting the pressure on the likes of Williamson, Holder and Samad to do the bulk of the scoring. Been retained for the new season by SRH, the management will hope that he bats with a lot more freedom and expresses himself, powering the orange army to daunting totals on the board.

Parag, too, has come a long way in his IPL career, shouldering the middle order responsibilities in the current RR set-up. His match-winning display against SRH and the epic Bihu celebrations post it, caught the attention of cricket lovers, who now rate him very highly. Apart from his big-hitting skills, Parag is a handy leg-spinner and quick mover in the outfield, making it a win-win situation with respect to his selection. If the youngster from Assam can have a big season at IPL 2021, it will take a lot of pressure off Stokes, Buttler and Samson, who could play their natural game and help RR go the distance.

All-rounders: Abhishek Sharma and Sam Curran

A batting all-rounder from Punjab, Abhishek’s left-arm orthodox bowling came off great help to SRH last season, who surprisingly turned out to be their 5th bowler. The spinner bowled wicket to wicket and restricted the flow of runs for the opposition, helping the likes of Rashid, Natarajan or a Bhuvi in picking crucial wickets at the other end. The combined effort naturally augered well for the side, who won important games and even qualified for the coveted playoffs. That said, Abhishek would like to contribute more with the bat in IPL 2021, which is his better suit by far and if that happens, SRH can go one better this time around and win their 2nd title.

Sam was by far, the most impressive CSK player in IPL 2020, contributing in all three departments of the game. While the season was a forgettable one for the franchise, Sam put his best foot forward, always waging a lone battle to help his side sail through. On the international front as well, the Surrey cricketer is in a good space, who almost won the 3rd ODI for England in the decider against India. His heroics, though, received a lot of praise and appreciation and even prompted fans to predict the winning fate for CSK in IPL 2021. The man naturally was overwhelmed by this response and will be raring to take the field for CSK in an attempt to redeem the lost fortunes of IPL 2020.

Bowlers: Marco Jansen, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Rahul Chahar and Shivam Mavi

A relatively unknown name in the cricketing circle, Jansen is a tearaway left-arm pacer from South Africa, who can bat a bit coming lower down in the order. MI sprung up a huge surprise by bringing his name in the accelerated process of the auction and then buying him at his base price, adding another dimension to their original squad. Jansen has been essentially picked as a replacement for Boult if an untimely injury turns up for the latter and provides the South African with a valuable opportunity to impress at the biggest stage.

Having missed the initial few seasons due to injury, Nagarkoti was bestowed with his much-deserved opportunity for KKR at IPL 2020. Though wiry in appearance, the young bowler can generate pace in excess of 140 kmph and even nail a few yorkers at the backend of an innings. Nagarkoti is handy with the bat as well, who can connect a few if in his hitting arc and contribute vital runs in the team’s cause. With the tournament returning to India, it will be fascinating to see how he responds to the challenge and brings back the past glory for KKR.

The younger of the Chahar brothers, Rahul too has made rapid strides in his cricketing career, going onto play T20 cricket for the country. The constant support and encouragement from skipper Rohit and the MI management has allowed the leg-spinner to blossom and bowl in a manner expected of him. At times, Rahul has disappeared for a few but that doesn’t stop the spinner from executing his plans and procuring the desired results, becoming the first choice spinner in the illustrious MI squad.

Just like his KKR bowling counterpart, Nagarkoti, Mavi too has a penchant for bowling quick and hitting the right lines and lengths. The pacer has been recognized as the one, who can bowl the test match lengths in T20 cricket and trouble the batsmen with the deliveries going away after pitching. He got the better of Rohit in a similar fashion last season and even international batters are wary of his threat now, who are working out plans to negate his effectiveness. If the Indian pace duo of Nagarkoti and Mavi do well for KKR in IPL 2021, they can look forward to including 3 overseas batsmen and adding a lot more firepower to the line-up, making it one heck of a task for their opposition to beat them.

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