IPL: Angkrish Raghuvanshi, 18, creates a big impact on his first bow

Another member of India’s awesome Under-19 pipeline grabs limelight

Angkrish Raghuvanshi in full flow vs Delhi Capitals on 2 April (photo: BCCI)
Angkrish Raghuvanshi in full flow vs Delhi Capitals on 2 April (photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It can be quite a daunting task to walk out at number three as an impact player in a line-up which boasts of some of the most accomplished names in white ball cricket like Phil Salt, Andre Russell, Shreyas Iyer or the enigmatic Sunil Narine. Angkrish Raghuvanshi, the gangly 18-year-old rookie from Mumbai, grabbed the opportunity with both hands on Wednesday, 3 April, to show he is made of sterner stuff.  

Walking in at the early fall of Salt, Raghuvanshi didn’t waste any time and started off with two back-to-back boundaries. He matched the freestroking Narine blow by blow to score a breezy 54 off 27 balls at a strike rate of 200, an innings laced with five fours and three sixes. The tall frame and the way he launched into his drives reminded one of Shubman Gill in his early days – as he also became the second youngest half-centurion on debut for KKR after the Indian star.

The 104-run partnership between him and Narine (85 off 39) set the platform for a mammoth total for the Knights on what was a batting paradise in Vizag and young Raghuvanshi certainly proved his worth on debut. ‘’I just wanted to watch the ball and react. I had worked in the nets for the last few weeks,’’ he said after the blistering knock.

Where and how did Angkrish emerge from? Much like Gill in 2018, he was a key member of India’s 2022 Under-19 World Cup winning team under Yash Dhull when he piled up 278 runs in the Caribbean.  He made his List A and T20 debut in 2023 for Mumbai and produced a stellar show in the CK Nayudu Trophy, where he smashed 765 runs in nine matches. The KKR scouts did well to shortlist him in their auction list as the two-time champions spent a base price of Rs 20 lakh to sign him as he reunited with his childhood coach Abhishek Nayar at the franchise.

Nayar, a former Mumbai allrounder and the livewire of the KKR academy, and Omkar Salvi had taken a 11-year-old Raghuvanshi under their fold. Speaking to the IPL website, he dedicated his much talked about debut innings to the self-effacing Nayar: ‘’I would like to dedicate this knock to my coach, Abhishek Nayar, and my teammates and the support staff. I have learnt a lot staying with them. Abhishek sir has been working with me since my childhood. All this reverse sweep and all, he made me practise a lot. So, the main man is him only.’’

When the youngster was finally dismissed by Anriche Nortje in trying to go for a big shot, he had registered his name in a few record books for KKR. He became the fourth highest scorer on debut for them with 54, while the top three positions belonged to Brendon McCullum (158), Manish Pandey (64) and Owais Shah (58).

Where does he see himself in a few years? ‘’I want to obviously don the Indian jersey. But to wear it like no one has ever done before. Everyone will look at me and say I am different,’’ came the answer. Now, that’s the Gen-X swagger for you…

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