Spotlight on youth


International commitments will force opener K L Rahul (Bellary Tuskers) and middle-order batsman Manish Pandey (Belagavi Panthers) to pick and choose only a few games. Karun Nair (Mysuru Warriors), K Gowtham (Belagavi Panthers) and R Samarth (Bengaluru Blasters), named in the teams for the Duleep Trophy starting on September 7, could only feature in the first week of the tournament.

Despite the absence of star attractions, the league could still churn out exciting contests thanks to the presence of a talented pool of young players who will be eager to make a mark. The league in the past has unearthed players with flair such as Mohammed Taha, Arjun Hoysala and K N Bharath and this time too, it could throw up some exciting talent.

“KPL is a great platform for youngsters. I still remember my first KPL and it was a great learning experience. It’s a great chance to experience playing under the lights for emerging players. Hopefully we can unearth two-three players this time as well,” said Mysuru skipper Nair.

The fresh players’ auction has levelled the field with no clear favourites to clinch the title. “Thankfully there wasn’t any retention as it would have worked against us to some extent. So now most of the teams are new. Only a few of them have managed to maintain the core group,” felt Chethan Williams, former Karnataka batsman and current coach of the Bengaluru unit. 

The league is the final chance for players to impress the selectors before the Ranji Trophy which begins from October 6. “Though it’s a quick shift from KPL to the Ranji Trophy, we are all professionals who are up for the challenge. We have done it in the past and it’s a good preparation for the domestic season,” felt all-rounder Shreyas Gopal.

In the lung opener, skipper Vinay, who is the key figure in the bowling department, will marshal a young Hubli team. The red-hot form of Abhishek Reddy augurs well for the Tigers while the dangerous Mayank Agarwal, who was the highest run-getter last season, will be a threat to Belagavi.

The Panthers also offer a picture of an inexperienced side and they will look up to captain and left-arm pacer S Arvind and all-rounders K Gowtham and Stuart Binny to deliver the goods. 

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