The IPL has unearthed some of the best Indian talents in the past eleven years and will certainly continue doing so. The 12th edition which kicks off on March 23 promises to be more exciting as players like the 16-year-old Prayas Ray Barman (bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 1.5 crore) and 18-year-old Prabhsimran Singh (bought by the Kings XI Punjab for INR 4.8 crore) will be in action for the very first time.
And then, there are players who will be returning to the league after missing out on the lucrative contracts in the previous editions. Let us look at three Indian players who will be making a comeback to the IPL this season.
#1. Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma started his IPL journey with the Kolkata Knight Riders (2008-2010) before moving to the 2009 winners and now-defunct, Deccan Chargers in 2011. Ishant's best IPL performance came in 2013 after he joined the Sunrisers Hyderabad (2013-2015) due to the termination of Deccan Chargers from the league. Though he played for the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant and Kings XI Punjab after his stint with the Sunrisers, he failed to create any sort of an impact with his bowling.
The Delhiite, who has so far taken 59 wickets in 76 IPL matches (best figures being 5/12), went unsold at the 2018 IPL auction with a base price of INR 75 lakhs. Nevertheless, he attracted bids this time around- courtesy his exploits with the cherry and was bought by the Delhi Capitals at the 2019 auction for INR 1.1 crore.
When asked about his IPL contract, Ishant said, "I'm pretty excited to do well for this season. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to do well in white-ball cricket, [to replicate] what I’ve been doing with the red ball. I think it’s a great opportunity for me to come back".
And, on his probable World Cup spot, Ishant added, "Why not? To be honest, I’m always a positive guy and always think something good is going to happen to me. I have opportunities to avail in this IPL. The Indian team is still looking for a fourth seamer. Hopefully, I am that fourth seamer. Watch out for the comeback man who is pretty much excited to play in front of his 'home' fans at Kotla!
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#2. Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari, who rose to prominence after the Indian colts' victorious 2012 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup, began his IPL stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2013. In that season, he made 241 runs in 17 matches for the Hyderabad franchise and was then released ahead of the 2014 edition.
Although he returned to represent Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2015 IPL, he made just five appearances throughout the season scoring 39 runs and was once again left out of the squad ahead of the ninth season. After going unsold at 2016, 2017 and 2018 IPL auctions, his fortunes finally changed at the 2019 auction as he was bought for INR 2 crore by the Delhi Capitals.
The Kakinada-born batsman who made his Test debut last year against England at the Oval, scored a half-century on his debut Test innings (56) which grabbed the headlines. Indeed, it's a deserving IPL contract for Vihari, who has been simply outstanding across the domestic circuit for quite some time.
On his IPL contract, Vihari said, "The challenge for me is to perform in the IPL first. I feel I can take my game to the next level and this year’s IPL will be a perfect platform". He further added, "You need someone at that No. 4 spot who has a good technique and can adapt to any situation. I think I have the skills and the game to succeed at that position".
#3. Varun Aaron
Varun Aaron, who began his IPL stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders (2008-2010). made his debut for the Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in season four. The Jharkhand star who scalped 10 wickets for Delhi across the 2011 and 2012 seasons, was bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the 2014 IPL auction.
The talented pacer excelled at RCB under Virat Kohli picking up 16 wickets in ten matches during the seventh edition. Unfortunately, he failed to replicate his success in the next two editions (three and two wickets in 2015 and 2016 respectively) for Kohli's men due to frequent injuries and poor form. Eventually, RCB released Aaron ahead of the 2017 IPL auction where he was bought by the Kings XI Punjab for INR 2.8 crore.
The 29-year-old who was released after just one season with the Mohali franchise (took seven wickets in six matches) found no buyers at the 2018 IPL auction. His hard work and belief paid off as he was bought by the Rajasthan Royals at this year's auction for INR 2.4 crore.
Aaron who took 25 wickets this Ranji season and 9 wickets in five matches during the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is now hoping that the 2019 IPL would pave him a perfect platform to get back into the Indian Team.
Aaron said, "Absolutely. The current season has been good for me. I got an India A call-up after almost three years. I did well in the Duleep Trophy as well. Due to my consistent performances, I am now going to play IPL. The only reason I play cricket is to play for India and to win matches for India". Watch out for the fiery pacer who is capable of constantly clocking the 150-kph mark!