Rising Pune Supergiant, who were edged out by Mumbai Indians in Sunday's Indian Premier League-10 final at Uppal, were well served by young guns Jaydev Unadkat, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and Rahul Tripathi
Unadkat reacts after dismissing KXIP's R Tewatia
Each year, the Indian Premier League (IPL) throws up some unfamiliar names who go on to become champion cricketers. Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya… the list is endless. Some have carried their IPL form to domestic cricket while others have excelled at the international level.
But never before have so many domestic youngsters done so well for one team together. In fact, finalist Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) have rode their way to the final with some brilliant performances by their domestic stars Jaydev Unadkat, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and Rahul Tripathi. These four have outshone their international and more experienced teammates on more occasions than one. So much so that they haven't let the absence of Ben Stokes make a difference to the team.
Washington Sundar bowls against MI on May 16
So, what did they actually do, and how?
Unadkat emerged as the second highest wicket-taker with 24 wickets from 12 games (Bhuvaneshwar Kumar of Sunrisers Hyderabad is the highest with 26 from 14 games) including a hat-trick maiden and a fifer.
Shardul Thakur claims KXIP's Shaun Marsh
Mumbai seamer Shardul, whose impressive domestic season with the red ball always had a grey spot in it - he was never regarded good enough to play cricket at the highest level with the white ball. But with 11 wickets from 12 matches and by bowling some game-changing spells in the tournament he showed that he can be a force to reckon with in any format.
Tripathi has played some defining knocks at the top of the order to amass 391 runs from 14 matches. His failure in the final can also be regarded as one of the reasons why Pune's batting faltered while chasing a low score against Mumbai Indians in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Rahul Tripathi celebrates his 50 vs KKR on May 3
When kids of his age would love to be busy chasing girls or fiddle with the latest gadgets, 17-year-old Washington Sundar is making life difficult for top T20 batsmen in world cricket. His performance against MI in Qualifier-1 was nothing short of memorable. He is undoubtedly one of the finds of IPL-10 with eight wickets in 11 matches. "Sundar's performance against MI at Wankhede in Qualifier-1 was fantastic. There are quite a few other youngsters - Unadkat, Tripathi and Thakur - who have been part of our success story," RPS skipper Smith said.
Pune skipper Steven Smith
Stephen Fleming was impressed too. "I am very proud of what we have achieved. We were not a very skilled side in the IPL, but we have players who stood up from nowhere. We take real pride in the environment that we have created where younger players can excel. Unadkat has been extraordinary, so has been Tripathi, Sundar and Thakur. I am very proud of the combination that we managed to put together and the campaign we ran."
Unadkat was grateful for the support. "I owe a lot of my success to the guidance of Smith, Fleming and MS Dhoni. Not only me, the way the three have been backing (other) youngsters in the team is one of the main reasons why a number of youngsters in the Pune side have done so well in this IPL," said Unadkat.
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