2020 was rather a depressing year not only for sportsmen but also for the fans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Several sporting events, including the ICC T20 World Cup and the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), were either cancelled or postponed as the pandemic wreaked havoc globally. However, taking ample precautions, the sporting world resumed at the fag end of the year.
And, with the resumption, several young talents got the chance to shine and showcase their skills at both national and international levels.
Speaking about cricket, especially the IPL which was held in the United Arab Emirates under a controlled environment, the tournament paved way for many young talents, with some of them even bagging a contract from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for a successful campaign.
That said, here are five young Indian cricketers whom fans should look forward to in 2021!
1. T Natarajan
After an impressive campaign with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 13th edition of the IPL, pacer T Natarajan made his debut for the Indian national cricket team.
Making his debut in the third and final ODI against Australia in Canberra, Natarajan once again impressed with the ball as the pacer picked two wickets while defending an average target of 303.
Natarajan dismissed batsman Marnus Labuschagne to pick his maiden wicket in Indian colors, followed by Ashton Agar. Natarajan bowled 10 overs in which he gave away 70 runs and picked two wickets. He also bowled a maiden over.
For SRH, Natarajan bagged 16 wickets in 16 games and was labelled 'yorker machine'.
And, in 2021, Natarajan will surely have many chances to put his skills to good use. The pacer might even get called up for his Test debut as primary pacer Umesh Yadav has been injured ahead of the third Test against Australia.
2. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill is another youngster to look forward to in 2021. During the IPL, Gill made headlines for all the right reasons. Not only for having a rumored relationship with Sara Tendulkar but, also for his successful IPL campaign.
The Kolkata Knight Riders batsman recorded 440 runs in 14 matches. Gill was a fan-favorite batsman, and it is likely that the 21-year-old will shine in his maiden Australia tour.
Gill also made an impressive debut for the national team in the 2nd Test against Australia. Gill recorded 45 and 32 not-out in his debut match. Although the numbers were not as great, the opener had a damaging effect on the hosts.
3. Devdutt Padikkal
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Devdutt Padikkal is definitely an exciting prospect for the year 2021. Padikkal was RCB's top-scorer with 473 runs in 15 games. With a strike rate of 124.80, Padikkal recorded more runs than skipper Virat Kohli himself.
Devdutt is a left-hand batsman. He was born in Edapal, Kerala but his parents moved to Hyderabad when he was young and finally settled in Bengaluru.
He started playing cricket at the age of 11.
Devdutt first came in the limelight for scoring 72 runs off 53 ball for his team Ballari Tuskers in Karnataka Premier League in 2017. It was quite an impressive match for him and for the spectators. He played for the state in U-19 matches. But unfortunately a slump in his form stalled his career for a bit.
The young lad, however, kept working harder and scored 829 runs in Cooch Behar Trophy 2018 and was the fourth highest run-getter.
4. Priyam Garg
Priyam Garg is another exciting prospect whose heroics in the recently-concluded IPL were discussed widely. The Sunrisers Hyderabad cricketer is also the U-19 skipper of the Indian cricket team.
In December 2019, Priyam Garg was named the captain of U-19 Indian Cricket team for the 2020 World Cup.
Hailing from village Quila Parikshitgarh, about 25 km from Meerut, Priyam picked up the bat and ball at the tender age of six.
Priyam suffered a personal setback when he lost his mother at the age of 11. His only regret now is that his mother can't see him play for the Indian team, which was her dream.
Priyam has a first-class double hundred and a List A century to his name. He was a part of the India C team that finished runner-up in the Deodhar Trophy.
A right handed top-order batsman, he scored 800-plus runs in his debut Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season for Uttar Pradesh, scored a century in his debut game against Goa.
And like every other Indian cricketer, Priyam too aspires to meet Sachin Tendulkar to take tips from the legend.
5. Ravi Bishnoi
Ravi Bishnoi, the U-19 Indian cricketer made his IPL debut with Kings XI Punjab this year. And, he ended his individual campaign with an at-par record of 12 wickets in 14 matches.
Bishnoi, a leg-spinner, finished the U-19 World Cup with 17 wickets, the highest in the tournament and also the most by an Indian in the tournament.
The 19-year old from Jodhpur produced a sensational spell of spin bowling with his googlies spelling doom for Bangladesh batters.
Likewise, in his IPL debut, Bishnoi's numbers were equally impressive. He gave away just 22 runs in 4 overs and picked up one wicket.