Ten Syed Mushtaq Ali Performers Who Could Bag IPL 2021 Contracts
A look at 10 players who did well in India’s Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and could be on the wish list of IPL teams.
India’s domestic T20I tournament, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, concluded on 1 February with Dinesh Karthik’s Tamil Nadu beating Baroda in the final to win the trophy for a second time.
With the rest of the domestic season mostly cancelled, this one tournament will be key in helping players make the one big step of converting their domestic performances into big IPL contracts with the auction for the 2021 season set to take place on 18 February, 2021 in Chennai.
Here’s a look at ten players who made big contributions to their teams’ campaigns and could be on the wish list of franchises looking to plug holes in their squad list ahead of the season that’s set to start in the second week of April.
1. Kedar Devdhar
The Baroda team was in the news even before the start of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy started as all-rounder Deepak Hooda left the side after a rift with skipper Krunal Pandya. The side was further hampered when Pandya had to leave the bio-bubble due to the demise of his father. Under testing conditions, Kedar Devdhar took on the reins of the side, and he immediately impressed with his man management skills and his batting prowess.
The 31-year-old led Baroda from the front and guided them into the finals, scoring 349 runs in 8 innings with a high score of an unbeaten 99. He ended as the tournament’s second highest run-scorer.
What was impressive about the opener was his ability to adapt to the situation and anchor the innings by holding one end up. Against Maharashtra, Devdhar took on the onus and played his attacking game, smashing 99* in 71 deliveries with the help of four sixes, while he curtailed his stroke play against Chandigarh when the target was well within reach, to end with an unbeaten 44 off 41 balls whilst chasing 91. Devdhar has played one IPL game in his career thus far, for the now-defunct Deccan Chargers, but did not get a chance to bat. He was unsold in the IPL 2020 auctions.
Teams that might be interested: Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings
2. Jalaj Saxena
The off spinner has been known more for his feats in Ranji cricket, but has proven his skills in the shortest format as well. Jalaj managed to pick up two three-wicket hauls in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this season, against Mumbai and Puducherry and was Kerala’s go-to bowler in the middle overs. He ended with 10 wickets in 5 games, and was his team’s highest wicket-taker.
What stood out was Saxena’s economy rate of less than seven and his ability to pick up wickets in pressure moments. He has the knack of predicting the batsman’s next move, and makes it tough for them due to the variations that he has up his sleeve. He has plenty of experience, and could be more than useful in the IPL when the tracks start to slow down in the second half. He has been a part of Mumbai Indians, RCB and Delhi Capitals in the past, but is yet to play a game.
Teams that might be interested: Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians
3. Avi Barot
The Saurashtra wicket-keeper could turn out to be a much sought-after player in the upcoming auction. The ‘Under-19 Indian cricketer of the year’ in 2011, Barot did not have the best start in senior cricket but has emerged as an exciting prospect ahead of the IPL, after a whirlwind knock of 122 in just 53 balls against Goa this season.
Though he played just five games, he ended as the edition’s fourth highest run-scorer with knocks of 24, 93, 122, 19 and 25. What stood out, however, was his strike rate of 184.96 - the highest among the top 20 run scorers in the Syed Mushtaq Ali this season.
Barot’s ability to play as an aggressor lower down the order along with his wicket-keeping skills makes him a bonus for a number of sides. With teams always on the lookout for powerful finishers, the cricketer could be much-sought after during the auctions. He is yet to feature in any season of the IPL.
Teams that might be interested: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders
4. Shahrukh Khan
One could say this one is a surprise entrant in this list, considering Shahrukh Khan batted in just four innings in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year with a high score of 40*. However, he had a huge role to play in Tamil Nadu’s title-winning run, including a crucial knock in the finals against Baroda.
Batting in the lower middle order, Khan started the edition with a quick 4-ball 12 and followed it up with an unbeaten 18 in 10 balls against Odisha. His knock of an unbeaten 40 off 19 balls with the help of five fours and two sixes arrived in the quarter finals when Tamil Nadu were struggling at 66 for 5 in 13 overs while chasing 135 while he played his part in the finals as well, hitting 18* in just 7 balls to take his team over the line.
The 25-year-old might not have big runs courtesy his batting position, but he managed to prove his ability to remain calm under pressure throughout the tournament.
He picked the lines and lengths with ease and remained composed with his stroke play even in pressure situations, and it would be a surprise if Khan does not attract bids in the auctions. He is yet to play in the IPL.
Teams that might be interested: Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab
5. Chetan Sakariya
Fast bowler Chetan Sakariya finished the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 12 wickets in 5 games, including a 5-wicket haul. However, what stands out is his economy rate of just 4.90, which is jaw-dropping considering that he bowls with the new ball and at the death.
He sent down a total of 65 dot balls in the edition and ended with a strike rate of 10 - impressive figures for a young fast bowler.
The Saurashtrian was at his best against Vidarbha, where he conceded just 11 runs in his 4 overs for five wickets, and he is certain to attract bids from teams that are short on the fast bowling reserve. His left-arm swing bowling has already been noticed by IPL teams in the past, and though he is yet to play in the league, he did join RCB as a net bowler in IPL 2020.
Teams that might be interested: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals
6. Vishnu Solanki
Ending with 267 runs in 8 games, Vishnu Solanki had a huge role to play in Baroda’s march to the finals. His knock of 71* against Haryana was the highlight of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Walking in at number three, Solanki had already raced away to a fine fifty, but they were in a spot of bother as they needed another 18 to chase down Haryana’s 148 off the last six balls.
The batsman was dropped off the second ball of the last over and he made the best of the opportunity, as he smashed a six, four and a six to help his team over the line in a close game. His hit to win the game was almost Dhoni-esque as he blasted the last ball over long on while playing a helicopter shot. Even in the finals, Solanki played a mature knock of 49 off 55 balls on a tough track. After being reduced to 36 for 6, the Baroda player held one end up and gritted it out to share a 58-run stand with Atit Shah, which ensured that the team could reach three-digits.
The batsman adds plenty of firepower in the batting line-up, which is a role that has always been in demand in the IPL. He is yet to play in the IPL.
Teams that might be interested: Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore
7. Sheldon Jackson
Sheldon Jackson is a veteran in domestic cricket and has now shifted base to Puducherry after establishing himself as a reliable batsman for Saurashtra. The wicket-keeper scored an unbeaten hundred against Andhra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, which helped his team chase down the highest ever total in the history of the competition.
Walking in to bat at 27 for 1 after 3.5 overs, with his side needing 227 for a win, Jackson got going immediately and partnered with Paras Dogra to help chase down the target.
The player ended with an unbeaten 106 in just 50 balls with the help of seven fours and eight huge sixes, and eventually ended the season with 242 runs from 5 games at a strike rate of 155.12. Most sides are in search of a backup keeper, and considering the 34-year old’s experience, Jackson could be in demand. He was a part of Kolkata Knight Riders in 2012 and RCB in 2013 but did not get a game. He eventually made his IPL debut in 2017 for KKR, but was unable to leave a mark in the four games that he played.
Teams that might be interested: Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings
8. Ashutosh Aman
Wrist spinners have emerged as a huge rage in the shortest format of the game of late, but Ashutosh Aman has displayed that left arm orthodox spin bowling will never go out of style. He can vary his pace, bowl accurate lines as well as maintain a good economy rate - something that he did to perfection in this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The 34-year old from Bihar finished as the leading wicket taker in the tournament, picking up 16 wickets at an average of 7.62 and an economy rate of just 5.08.
He managed two four-wicket hauls as well, and the fact that he has been a consistent performer for a while, albeit in Ranji Trophy, further makes him a much sought after player.
Teams that might be interested: Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders
9. Mohammed Azharuddeen
Like his Kerala mate Sanju Samson, Mohammed Azharuddeen is also often prone to inconsistencies, but he is a treat to watch when on fire.
He was at his best in the unbeaten ton against Mumbai where he reached the three figure mark in just 37 balls - the second fastest ton.
The batsman ended with an unbeaten 137 off just 54 balls, which also the first ever century by a Kerala player in the T20 event. Against a bowling side that had players such as Tushar Deshpande, Dhawal Kulkarni and Shams Mulani, Azharuddeen maximized the powerplay overs and continued with the same approach once he got his eye in.
Though the 26-year old averages at 22.55 in T20s, his strike rate of 142.27 is evidence of his skills. He looks to go all out and is not afraid to lose his wicket, and his fearlessness might fetch him his first maiden IPL contract.
Teams that might be interested: Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings
10. Lukman Meriwala
Lukman Meriwala picked up 15 wickets in 8 games this season and ended as the second highest wicket taker in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He played a huge role in guiding Baroda to the finals of the tournament, and could be a player who could attract big bids in the auctions.
His highlight this tournament was against Chhattisgarh, where he picked up 5 wickets whilst conceding just 8 runs in 3.3 overs.
Meriwala has been a consistent performer in domestic T20 games - he has three five-wicket hauls and 72 wickets in 43 innings - and is known for his economical bowling spells.
With a dearth of left arm pacers in India, expect Meriwala to be an astute signing for any IPL team.
Teams that might be interested: Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab
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