Two days after the retention lists were announced, scouts from various IPL franchises on Thursday converged on the Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus Ground in Kolkata to witness the Vijay Hazare Trophy fixture between Delhi and Karnataka.
The high-profile fixture, studded with IPL stars, had talent scouts of the Mumbai Indians (MI), Delhi Capitals (DC) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) watching on from the sidelines. The southern giants prevailed by four wickets to consolidate their position at the top of Elite Group B.
Ex-India fast bowler RP Singh and former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla took notes for the five-time champions. DC were represented by Saba Karim – their head of talent search since 2021.
The new kid on the block, though, was Dwaraka Ravi Teja, who was assigned duties of RCB. Interestingly, the former SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) batter had recently recalled fond memories of Virat Kohli from their under-15 days.
Two of the biggest names to be released into the auction pool were Karnataka’s Manish Pandey and Mayank Agarwal. While the latter missed the game due to fever, the 33-year-old Pandey chopped one on after a counter-attacking 48 off 37 balls. Their teammates Ravikumar Samarth and Shreyas Gopal were also freed by SRH. Samarth is yet to make his IPL debut, while leg-spinner Gopal played a solitary game in IPL 2022.
RP Singh and Bisla were chaired away from the sparse crowd, to the left of one of the sightscreens. The duo was constantly checking scores from the other games in progress, while various players came up for discussion. Karim was stationed in the small tent rooted for officials. The former Bengal stalwart sat upright, with eyes firmly on the match. Behind him sat Ravi Teja.
The other IPL stars part of the encounter were Yash Dhull, Lalit Yadav (DC), Pradeep Sangwan, Abhinav Manohar (Gujarat Titans), Nitish Rana (KKR), Ayush Badoni, Mayank Yadav, Krishnappa Gowtham (Lucknow Super Giants) and Navdeep Saini (Rajasthan Royals).
Sunil Oasis, part of the Chennai Super Kings’ scouting system, has also flown in for the Kolkata leg of the competition. But the former Kerala all-rounder was not present at the Salt Lake ground.
Jharkhand, Vidarbha, Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim are the other states playing their group matches in the city. The three other venues hosting the 50-over tournament are, Eden Gardens, CCFC Ground and 22 Yards.
Which are the other players IPL teams can choose from?
Karnataka seamer Vasuki Koushik is the second highest wicket-taker in the tournament. A late bloomer, the 30-year-old has scalped 11 wickets in the four matches so far. He claimed the important wickets of opener Himmat Singh, well-set batters Yash Dhull and Lalit Yadav, to return sensational figures of 3 for 23 today.
His compatriot Ronit More can also stake a claim in the 10-team mini-auction. Although he didn’t play the recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, the 30-year-old boasts the wealth of playing two matches for CSK in IPL 2013.
22-year-old batter Nikin Jose, who has always been touted as one for the future, has finally broken into the mix. The top-order batter has aggregated 133 runs thus far. His claim to fame came as a 15-year-old when he became the first bowler to take six wickets in a Karnataka Premier League (KPL) game back in 2015.
Delhi’s Shivank Vashist also provides a good all-round option. Although he went wicketless today, the left-arm orthodox extracted considerable turn from the lively JU pitch. He can also be employed as a floater. After producing a valiant 60-ball 51 in the previous match versus Rajasthan, the 27-year-old was promoted to one-drop in today’s fixture.