Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been a breeding ground for talented cricketers for a long time now. Greats like K. Srikanth, Robin Singh, G. Vishwanath, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid have their origins in these two southern states.
In recent times, there has been an influx of gifted players from these regions. A major reason for this is the focus the state boards give to domestic competitions. Experienced national team players like Manish Pandey, R. Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik coming back to play for their state sides whenever they are available shows the sense of loyalty and gratitude they owe to their respective states. They groom the raw talent which helps them rise through the ranks and make it to the bigger stage, be it the IPL or the national side.
Here’s a look at some of the players from these states who have made a mark at the bigger stages.
KL Rahul has been one of the biggest finds in Indian cricket in recent years. The elegant strokemaker from Karnataka announced his arrival on the international circuit in style, scoring a hundred in only his second test match and that too in Australia. A solid technique along with a calm head has seen Rahul cement his place in the Indian team in all formats. The Punjab Kings skipper has been a prolific run getter, especially in white ball cricket where his average ranges from 39.92 to 48.68.
Another flamboyant opener from Karnataka, Mayank Agarwal had to wait for a long time to earn his maiden Indian cap. Although he made his IPL debut a long time back in 2011, it was much later in 2018 when a stellar Ranji Trophy season gave the much needed impetus to his career. He got selected in the Test squad and a string of high scores saw him becoming the first-choice opener for the side. Adding to this, consistent performances in the IPL saw him make his way into the coloured jersey as well.
Hailing from the small town of Salem in Tamil Nadu, the left-arm quick has been living a dream for the last two years. Hogging the spotlight in the 2020 IPL, the 30-year-old made his debut for India in all three formats on the Tour of Australia 2020-21, becoming the first player to do so. Natarajan’s ability to bowl yorkers at the death makes him a valuable asset in the shortest format and he may get a place in the side for the T20 World Cup in October.
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Another young top-order batter, Jagadeesan has been a revelation for Tamil Nadu in the domestic tournaments. The 25-year-old scored 364 runs at an average of 72.80 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this season, leading his side to their second SMAT title. The talented keeper is a part of the Chennai Super Kings. However, the presence of MS Dhoni means that Jagadeesan does not get as many chances as he would have liked.
Oozing class and confidence, the 20-year-old is on the radar of cricket experts and selectors. Padikkal opens the batting for Karnataka as well as the Royal Challengers Bangalore and has made a name for himself with his nonchalant strokemaking and brilliance in the field. The southpaw had a stellar Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2021, amassing 737 Runs including four consecutive centuries. It’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot about ‘DDP’ in the coming years.
A good all-rounder is key to a team’s success and Gowtham has been playing that role for Karnataka for a number of years. A handy off spinner with the ability to hit the ball a long distance, the 32-year-old was roped in by the Chennai Super Kings for a whopping ₹9.25 crore ahead of the 2021 season. Although he has not a got an opportunity to display his skills in Yellow, Gowtham is a prime example of the strength of CSK’s bench.
Standing at 6 foot 6 inches, Shahrukh’s muscular figure does justice to his ferocious six-hitting ability. The 25-year-old from Tamil Nadu made his presence felt in the TNPL and continued his power hitting in SMAT 2021. A good season saw him bag his first IPL contract with the Punjab Kings for ₹5.25 crore. In the short span of time in the IPL so far, Shahrukh has shown glimpses of his immaculate striking which he is known for.
With a bowling action that resembles Ajantha Mendis, Varun Chakravarthy brings the same level of mystery and deception to the table as the Sri Lankan. Another TNPL find, the 29-year-old started his IPL career with KXIP in 2019 before the Kolkata Knight Riders picked him up for ₹4 crore in 2020, where he has cemented his place. The mystery spinner was touted to make his debut for India on the Tour of Australia 2020-21 but an injury delayed his dream. The selectors looked at him once again before the England T20Is but he failed to clear the fitness tests. However, Chakravarthy has started the 2021 IPL on a good note and a berth in the T20 World Cup squad might be in the offing for him.
Starting his career as a technically sound batter with the ability to bowl some handy leg-breaks, Shreyas Gopal’s skills have switched places as he is now one of the best wrist spinners in the domestic circuit. Although the 27-year-old from Karnataka made his IPL debut in 2014 for the Mumbai Indians, he came into the spotlight after he joined the Rajasthan Royals in 2018.
Starting his career early, Washington Sundar has risen in the ranks in a short period of time. At 21, he already has 3 half centuries in tests, an ODI cap and a cemented place in India’s T20I squad. A skillful off spinner with a good batting technique, Sundar is a valuable asset in any team set-up. With age on his side, he may be one of the most important faces in the future when the Indian team experiences a generational change.
A tall, lanky pacer from Karnataka with the ability to clock 140 kmph at will, Prasidh Krishna takes after his idol, Brett Lee. Coming into the Kolkata Knight Riders squad as a replacement for Kamlesh Nagarkoti, the speedster has made his presence felt. He was handed an ODI debut against England earlier this year and was quick to impress on the biggest stage with 3 wickets in his first match. Speed is a skill that India has had a dearth of in its pacers and if Krishna can work on his ability to bowl good lines and lengths consistently, he can become a regular for India.