Every new cricketer aspires to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in order to further their career. The IPL has helped many young players hone their talents in recent years by providing a competitive atmosphere in which they may play alongside and against established international players. Names like Ishan Kishan, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and Yuzvendra Chahal earned a shot in the league and shown their talent to make the national squad.
On the other hand, several players were unlucky in their first years in the league, as despite winning franchises at the auction, they sat on the bench before making their debut. However, after a few years of waiting, they were promoted to the starting XI and made their debut.
Here are five players that sat on the bench for the most of IPL seasons before making their debut.
Number 1. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav is a well-known wrist-spinner in international cricket and the IPL. Despite his success, he initially struggled to secure a spot in the playing XI of the Mumbai Indians in 2012 and Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014 and 2015.
In 2016, he finally got his chance in the league with KKR against his former team, Mumbai Indians. In his first game, he took one wicket but conceded 37 runs in four overs. Despite the unimpressive performance, he ended the season with six wickets in three games and an economy rate of 8.33.
But in the following year, 2017, he played a crucial role in helping KKR reach the playoffs with 12 wickets in 12 games and an economy rate of 8.29. So far, the 28-year-old has accumulated 61 wickets in 59 matches with an economy rate of 8.31.
Number 2. Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson has been a prominent figure in first-class cricket since 2011, representing Saurashtra and Puducherry. He has amassed 6,164 runs from 83 matches, with 19 centuries and 33 half-centuries to his name. In 2009, he was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
However, his IPL debut was delayed as he spent years warming the bench for the Kolkata Knight Riders (2009-2010 & 2015-16) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (2013-2014). He finally made his IPL debut in 2017, playing for Kolkata Knight Riders against Delhi Capitals.
In his debut game, he contributed 12 runs off five deliveries to help his team secure the win. He finished his debut season with only 38 runs in four appearances, boasting a strike rate of 122.58. In the following year, he was with Kolkata Knight Riders again and could only manage 23 runs in five games, with a strike rate of 88.46.
Number 3. CM Gautam
From 2008 to 2019, CM Gautam was a domestic cricket player who amassed 4,716 runs in 94 matches, including 10 centuries and 24 half-centuries, establishing himself as a formidable batter for Karnataka. In 2010, he was acquired by RCB for the Indian Premier League, but struggled to secure a spot in the starting lineup from 2010 to 2012.
In 2013, Gautam debuted for Delhi Capitals (DC) against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Despite his debut, he only managed to score two runs in three deliveries. Over the course of the season, he only managed 44 runs in three matches with a strike rate of 129.41. He later played for Mumbai Indians in 2014, but was unable to make an impact.
In total, Gautam scored only 169 runs in 13 IPL matches with a below-average strike rate of 112.67, disappointing his franchises. In 2019, he was arrested on charges of fixing a KPL match between Bellari Tuskers and Hubli Tigers and has since been banned from participating in domestic and league cricket.
Number 4. Sandeep Warrier
Sandeep Warrier has extensive experience in first-class cricket, having taken 206 wickets in 63 matches for Kerala and Tamil Nadu from 2012-22. Despite his success, he has struggled to make an impact in the IPL.
In 2013, he was signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) but was unable to crack the playing XI due to the presence of more experienced bowlers. Despite being picked up by RCB again in the 2014 auction, he did not make his league debut until 2015.
Warrier made his IPL debut for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2019 against Mumbai Indians (MI), but had a disappointing outing without taking a wicket. He did contribute to a KKR victory in his second match, dismissing Chris Gayle and KL Rahul. Warrier was part of KKR for three seasons (2019-2021) before being released by the franchise before the 2022 auction. With only two wickets in five IPL matches, he did not generate significant interest in the February 2022 auction.
Number 5. Siddhesh Lad
Siddhesh Lad has a nine-year experience in first-class cricket, having represented Mumbai and Goa and becoming a match-winner through his impressive innings. In 107 innings, he scored 4,171 runs, including 8 centuries and 27 half-centuries.
In 2015, he was acquired by the five-time champions Mumbai Indians but remained on the bench for four seasons (2015-2018). He finally made his IPL debut in 2019 against Punjab Kings. Despite filling in for an injured Rohit Sharma, he scored 15 runs off 13 deliveries.
However, with the return of Sharma, Lad was not given further opportunities to play. In November, he was traded to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) from Mumbai Indians, but again failed to get a chance to play for the franchise. In the 2021 auction, he was released by KKR but went unsold as no teams expressed interest in him.