Jemimah Rodrigues – All of 17 years, Jemimah Rodrigues is the next big thing in Indian women’s cricket. Already captaining the Mumbai U19 team, Rodrigues became only the second player – after Smriti Mandhana, opener for India and Maharashtra – to score a double century at the U19 women’s level. Her unbeaten 202 came in the league stage of the national inter-state women’s U19 tournament, which was actually following another innings of 163 against Saurashtra just a week before the double ton.
Naturally athletic from a young age, Rodrigues also tried her hand at football and hockey, being a national level player in the latter. But it was always cricket that interested her the most, and when someone makes their U19 debut at the age of just 12 and a half, you know they’re blessed with natural skill.
The next step? As Rodrigues has said herself before, “I’m one step away from playing for India. But I still want to continue performing especially at the higher level. It will give me a boost also as I enter the international level too. And yes of course it’s a dream of any cricketer to play for India and raise your helmet and bat for India. And I hope that I score a double century even while playing for India.”
Abhimanyu Easwaran – Playing in the Ranji Trophy for Bengal, Abhimanyu Easwaran started the season riding on some good performances in the Duleep Trophy, and continued his form into the tournament with a score of 117 against Punjab. That performance was a watershed moment for his year, having batted for more than five and a half hours and not losing his concentration even once – something he has displayed a tendency for in the past.
But Easwaran was eager to show this was not just a one-off. He scored centuries in both innings of Bengal’s quarter-final clash against Gujrat in Jaipur (129 and 114) and helped his team into the semi-finals. Up until this point, the youngster had scored 547 runs at an average of 54.7, and was his team’s second highest run scorer behind Abhishek Raman (who had played an extra game). 2017-18 was the season that the 22 year-old well and truly established himself on the national stage.
With Abhimanyu’s father RP Easwaran as the driving force behind his cricketing dreams, the sky is the limit for the youngster who hopes of representing the national team in the future.
Prithvi Shaw – 2017 was the year Prithvi Shaw, Mumbai’s 18 year-old right-handed batsman completed his transition from wonderkid to seasoned Ranji player. Five first class hundreds and three fifties, at an average of 56.52 is evidence of that, for starters.
That Shaw has been given the responsibility of leading the Indian U19 cricket team at the World Cup in January-February 2018 by none other than head-coach Rahul Dravid is further proof of how highly the youngster is rated in Indian cricket. For some, it is already a foregone conclusion that he is a future India player.
When young Shaw faced Trent Boult in a warm-up match ahead of New Zealand’s series against India earlier this year, the Kiwi pacer was left impressed by his technique. He scored 22 and 66 representing Board President’s XI. “I heard he was 17, I couldn’t quite believe it,” he said. “He’s probably one of many who has a promising career ahead of him, if all things go well. But very impressed from the first look.”
From becoming the 13th batsman to score a century on Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai to leading India in an U19 World Cup next year if all goes well, Prithvi Shaw is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
G Trisha – A 12 year playing U19 cricket, G Trisha is another wonderkid in the Indian domestic circuit. It has been a good year for Indian women’s cricket, with the national team reaching the final of the World Cup, and the emergence of talents like Trisha bodes extremely well for the future.
In the Women’s Cricket U19 series this year, Trisha bowled mind-boggling spells of 3/9, 2/9, 4/18, and scored 52 while opening the batting. She has played across the U16, U19, and even U23 levels for Hyderabad, being the vice-captain of the U19 team. That she has done it all while not even in her teens is, to say the least, phenomenal.
Her uncle Uday had said in an interview earlier in the year, “Apart from her prodigious talent, Trisha’s game sense is remarkable. Hyderabad cricketers such as VVS Laxman and Mithali Raj, both have seen her in action and India captain Raj, who also made her name in international cricket at only 16, has given the youngster a kit bag and more.”
Trisha was born in 2005, a year when the Indian women’s cricket team reached the final of the women’s World Cup for the first time. Things would certainly have come full circle for the youngster if she herself goes on to represent the country in a World Cup in the future.
Shubhman Gill – Eighteen year old Shubman Gill from Punjab won’t just be making up the numbers when India’s campaign in the U19 World Cup starts in January 2018. He will be vital to it. Gill was picked for the India A squad earlier this year too for a series against New Zealand A, but missed out because of a side strain. In many ways, the U19 World Cup will be his chance to show that he is one for the future.
Gill was the best performer on the Indian team’s U19 tour to England in July and August, finishing the tour as the highest scorer in the ODI series from either team with 278 runs at an average of 92.66, with a strike-rate of over 100. His approach to batting is Sehwag-esque, with the youngster himself having earlier said, “I like the idea of having all the fielders up in the longer format. That gives me a lot of opportunities to deal in boundaries during the starting phase of my innings. Once I get to that 30-40 run mark, I start trying to pick ones and twos to bring some stability to my approach.”
He rubbed shoulders with his idol, Virat Kohli at the BCCI awards earlier in the year, and if he follows the Indian captain’s words of trying to “keep doing well” wherever he plays, it won’t be long before we see Shubman Gill turning out in the India blue.