The Indian Premier League (IPL) concluded its current season last month. As with the previous year, there have been some standout performances from both domestic and international players. Furthermore, two new franchises were debuted this year, with both making the playoffs and the Gujarat Titans going on to win the championship in their inaugural season.
Every season, the IPL is known for discovering new talent. Any prospective cricketer longs for the chance to exhibit their talent on the largest stage. It is not just a showcase for uncapped Indian players, but we also witness many future abroad talents every year.
This year’s IPL was no exception. While some of the regular suspects performed admirably, a few new stars such as Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Mukesh Choudhary, Rajat Patidar, and Mohsin Khan are ones to watch in the future. Some unsung heroes did their jobs and made little but critical contributions to their teams crossing the finish line in big games.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the unsung heroes from the IPL 2022 tournament.
Number 1. Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rajasthan Royals)
Jos Buttler was the focus of RR’s 2022 campaign. His opening partner, on the other hand, provided tiny but critical contributions to his team’s strong start in powerplays this season. However, his spot on the team was not guaranteed following the auction, as Devdutt Padikkal was purchased, providing another opening alternative.
The Royals elected to commence their campaign with Jaiswal and Padikkal in the middle order. He was dropped following failures against RCB and MI. Padikkal was erratic in the games he opened, thus they reverted to their original opening combination.
Jaiswal scored 68 off 41 balls in his comeback outing against PBKS to help the Royals win the vital match. In the game against LSG, the southpaw was once again responsible for a strong start on the powerplay, scoring 41 points on only 29 balls. In their final group game, the Royals were pursuing a modest target of 151 against CSK, with a win required to finish in the top two on the points table.
Jaiswal once again delivered in a crucial match, this time with a half-century that guaranteed RR finished ahead of Lucknow. What’s important to notice about these performances is that they happened at the end of a quiet series of games for Buttler. His knocks relieved some of the burden on Jos heading into the playoffs, where he found his form to lead them to the championship game.
Number 2. Shahbaz Ahmed (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
This IPL season, RCB made the playoffs for the third time in a row. Bowlers like Harshal, Wanindu, and Hazelwood played critical roles, while finisher Dinesh Karthik was also a vital player. This was not Virat Kohli’s greatest IPL, and it took tiny but critical contributions from Shahbaz Ahmed throughout the tournament to keep the winning momentum going.
This season, Shahbaz batted higher in the order for RCB. RCB lost Kohli and Faf early in their second game against KKR, chasing a modest total of 128. Shahbaz contributed a crucial 27 from 20 balls to keep them in the run chase and complete a close victory. In the following game against the Royals, Shahbaz was once again crucial in a run chase, scoring 45 off just 26 balls to help RCB win back-to-back games on another night when the big guns failed.
Shahbaz maintained his fine form, hitting 41 and 32 at a high strike rate against CSK and DC, respectively. Although none of his contributions were huge enough to steal the show, his little but vital contributions helped RCB win early in the tournament. When the big guns were struggling, knocks like this helped RCB maintain their lead at the outset of the tournament.
Number 3. Jitesh Sharma (Punjab Kings)
Jitesh Sharma, 28, is a wicketkeeper-batsman from Amravati, Maharashtra. He was signed in by Punjab Kings as a backup for Bairstow and Rajapaksa in case their overseas combination needed to be adjusted. Jitesh was not an immediate starter and had to wait until their third game against CSK to earn his chance.
Jitesh was the designated wicketkeeper in a few games, while Bairstow handled the gloves in others. What remained consistent was his performance as a PBKS finisher. In whatever situation, he maintained incredible composure and match awareness. He hit three sixes against CSK in his debut, concluding the innings with a cameo of 26 off 17 balls.
He didn’t look back and scored 23 off 11 balls against GT, followed by 30 off 15 balls against MI and 38 of 18 against the Royals. Punjab can now count on a quality finisher. He also kept his cool in a difficult game against DC, as PBKS lost quick wickets, to keep the innings going. His contributions were never in the spotlight, yet he performed his duties flawlessly.
Number 4. Abhishek Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad)
SRH purchased Abhishek Sharma at the auction for INR 6.5 crores. He was expected to begin the batting with skipper Kane Williamson and also to give a left-arm spinning option for the side’s balance. Abhishek is widely considered as a player akin to his idol Yuvraj Singh in home circles, and he did not disappoint this season.
Throughout the campaign, Abhishek supplied SRH with quick beginnings. Kane Williamson, the skipper, has struggled with the bat this season and has been slow on the powerplay. That was not the case for the teenager from Punjab, who hit 426 runs with a strike rate of 133 during the season. He played a key role in SRH’s five-match winning streak, which kept them in contention for the playoffs.
He had a match-winning performance against CSK, scoring 75 off 50 balls, and 42 off 32 balls against GT, who were chasing 162. He scored his second fifty of the season against the Titans and appeared on key powerplays throughout the game. With players like Rahul Tripathi, Nicolas Pooran, and Aiden Markram on the team, Abhishek’s contributions were not always in the spotlight, but hitting 400 runs in an IPL season is a feat to be proud of for a 21-year-old.
Number 5. Daniel Sams (Mumbai Indians)
With Jofra Archer out this season, much was anticipated of BBL standout Daniel Sams. He struggled in his first few games, especially against KKR, where Pat Cummins hammered 35 runs in his one over. Soon after, he was replaced in the playing XI by other overseas possibilities, with Mumbai at the bottom of the points table.
When Tymal Mills was ruled out with an injury, he returned to the starting lineup. In his return game, he took four wickets against CSK while defending a low total of 155. He recovered with economic spells against GT and KKR, as Mumbai began to accumulate points. Sams was the Player of the Match in the rematch against CSK, taking 3/16 from 4 overs.
The Mumbai Indians had a forgettable season, but if they need positives for next season, Daniel Sams was one of them. The manner in which he recovered after the early hammerings was a credit to his character. With Jofra Archer’s future unknown as well, MI has a capable backup option in Sams.