In these sixteen seasons of the IPL, we have seen everything from an unknown player becoming a star overnight or a talent losing a career much too sudden. But then just often has it happened that have we seen a youngster smacking the best franchise of the tournament, and that too in a big final?
A 21-year-old boy from Chennai, Sai Sudharsan, scored a blistering 96 off just 47 deliveries against MSD’s Chennai Super Kings. Gujarat Titans, the defending champions, posted a massive total of 214, courtesy- Sai’s 96. But the rain brought down the target to 177 in 15 overs, and eventually, Jadeja thrashed Mohit Sharma for ten runs on the final two deliveries and cliched their fifth IPL title.
If you observe him closely then perhaps you’ll discover that armoured by technical soundness and power, Sai Sudharsan appears a fairly simple batter.
But deeply embedded in his batting style is the ability to change gears, something that was richly evident in the recent IPL finals, where despite a glorious effort, he emerged on the wrong side of the result.
Yet, how did the now-known cricketer begin his T20 journey? How did it all start for the youngster that has the makings to go all the way in international cricket?
Sai Sudharsan- From TNPL to IPL
After scoring fifty in the previous game and being retired out, he went on to smash 96 in the biggest T20 league’s final. It all started in 2022 when Gujarat Titans bought him at the mega auctions for the base price of 20 lakhs. Sai had a decent season before becoming the most expensive player in the Tamil Nadu Premier League auctions. He was picked up by the Lyca Kovai Kings for 21.6 lakhs, or one can say 32% of the overall TNPL budget allocated to the teams.
And the irony is that Sai Sudharsan earns more in TNPL than the IPL.
The Southpaw had a rewarding domestic season in 2022-23. He was the second-highest scorer of Tamil Nadu in Ranji, where he scored 572 runs in 12 innings, including two centuries and a half-century. Also, he was the third-highest scorer of the Vijay Hazare trophy after N Jagadeesan and Ruturaj Gaikwad. He smacked 610 runs in eight innings with a best score of 154.
In a final of one of the best leagues in the world, even the greatest ones fail to score under immense pressure. Shubman Gill, who is on the top of the world considering his form, also got out after scoring a quick 39. Sai came to bat at number three and started slow, but as the game went on, he took charge and started hammering those huge sixes over the mid-wicket region. Even Dhoni couldn’t stop him from smashing runs all over the ground.
Not only did Sai score 96, but also broke the nine-year-old record of the highest score by an uncapped player in the IPL final, which was previously held by Mandeep Singh, who scored a fine half-century while playing for Kings XI Punjab in 2014.
Every year, we witness a phenomenal bunch of players doing their part to win the hearts of the crowd. There were some incredible moments this year as well. From Rinku’s five sixes in the last over to the enthralling final, where Ravindra Jadeja snatched the victory from Hardik’s hands.
The most-popular league consistently produces new players and keeps the fans entertained, which ultimately benefits Indian cricket. Hoping we could see some more of Sudharsan in the coming years.