Left-arm fast bowler T Natarajan earned 30 times his base price of INR 10 lakh to become the highest-paid uncapped Indian player in the 2017 IPL auction after a breakout season in the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). Allrounders Washington Sundar (Rising Pune Supergiant, Royal Challengers Bangalore), R Sanjay Yadav (Kolkata Knight Riders) and wicketkeeper-batsman N Jagadeesan (Chennai Super Kings) are other examples of unheralded names breaking into the IPL following successful TNPL seasons. Which players are on the IPL radar for 2019?
Team: Siechem Madurai Panthers
Role: Right-arm mystery spinner
Skills: Bowls in the Powerplay as well as in the slog overs
Varun began his career as a wicketkeeper-batsman, then dabbled in fast bowling, and after an injury he switched to legspin. Before TNPL 2018, he bowled at the CSK nets and was later called up by Dinesh Karthik to the KKR nets, where he trained with Sunil Narine and Carl Crowe, who has worked with Narine and Mohammad Hafeez.
In additional to the conventional legbreak, Varun unfurled the wrong'un, a fast slider, and a carrom ball that swerves into the right-hander, in this season's TNPL. In a video interview on the TNPL website, Varun claimed he has as many as eight variations.
Chennai Super Kings batting coach Michael Hussey, who was at the TNPL as a commentator, picked out Varun as one of the most exciting talents this season. In all, Varun bowled 40 overs, of which 125 balls were dots. Varun's economy rate - 4.7 - was the best among bowlers who had bowled at least 15 overs.
Team: Lyca Kovai Kings
Role: Right-handed opening batsman
Skills: Providing fast starts in the Powerplay
No, not the Bollywood superstar and Kolkata Knight Riders' owner. This is Lyca Kovai Kings' M Shahrukh Khan, who was named after the actor.
Shahrukh, who was named the the Player of the tournament in the inaugural edition of Junior Chennai Super Kings in 2012, has only made sporadic appearances for Tamil Nadu since. A promotion to the opening spot alongside his state captain Abhinav Mukund in this season's TNPL unlocked his power-hitting. Shahrukh ended the tournament as the fourth-highest scorer, with 325 runs in nine innings at a strike-rate of 141.30 and average of 36.11.
Team: Jones Tuti Patriots
Role: Right-arm medium-pacer
Skills: Bowling yorkers and low full-tosses in the death overs
Remember, his name was called out at the 2018 IPL auction twice, including in the final round? He had trialled with Mumbai Indians last season, after claiming 15 wickets in nine matches in TNPL 2017 and a five-wicket haul for Tamil Nadu against Karnataka in the 20-over Vijay Hazare Trophy in the same year, but could not secure an IPL deal.
Athisayaraj's USP is that he can bowl yorkers and low full-tosses with a wacky round-arm action, which bears resemblance to Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga. The yorkers and low full-tosses came out again in this TNPL and were central to him claiming 13 wickets in seven games at an economy of 8.92. Only Madurai Panthers' Abishek Tanwar took more wickets than Athisayaraj in TNPL 2018. Will he be third-time lucky in 2019?
Team: VB Kanchi Veerans
Role: Ambidextrous spinner
Skills: Power-hitter in the middle order and economical with the ball
The teenager made heads turn, when he bowled orthodox left-arm spin to the right-handed Jagadeesan before switching to right-arm offspin for the left-handed C Hari Nishant against Dindigul Dragons last month. In the same game, he cracked an unbeaten 77 off 50 balls to rescue his side from 7 for 2. He was the top scorer for Kanchi Veerans with 136 runs in five innings and while he did not pick up a wicket with the ball, he had a fairly decent economy rate of 7.46 after 15.4 overs. Will he become the second ambidextrous spinner in the IPL after Akshay Karenwar, who has had a stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore?
Team: Dindigul Dragons
Role: Right-handed batsman
A burly, big-hitting batsman, who floats in the middle order, Vivek hammered 22 sixes in seven innings - only one less than Arun Karthik's chart-topping tally of 23. Four of those sixes came in a 32-run over off Karaikudi Kaalai's Mohan Prasath. Vivek hit 42 off 13 balls at a strike-rate of 323.07 before being dismissed in that game. His overall strike-rate of 209.60 was the highest in the tournament for a minimum of 25 balls faced.