Six key picks from Syed Mushtaq Ali for IPL 2021
IPL 2021 is knocking at the door. The Indian cricket board declared the auction date already, and once again, a bunch of youngsters will be under focus during the Indian Premier League 2021 auction. Last year, the 13th edition of the league had to be organized outside the country due to the pandemic. Reportedly, this year the BCCI is planning to host it in India. No wonder the 14th edition will be as big as the last one, if not bigger.
The domestic season has played an effective part ahead of the IPL auction since the inception. Unknown young players who do well in the domestic tournaments come on the radar of IPL franchises. T Natarajan has been one of such names in recent times. Although the board decided to scrap the Ranji Trophy this year, they went ahead with the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy.
Tamil Nadu lifted the trophy last Sunday by beating Baroda in an exciting finale. The tournament has seen some bright performances and helped some youngsters to make it to the headlines. Once again, they will be in focus when the IPL franchise is back in the business for IPL 2021 auction.
Shahrukh Khan from Tamil Nadu batted only four times in this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, but he made his mark in that short opportunity. His 88 runs came off just 40 balls with an astounding strike rate of 220.00. Tamil Nadu finished the tournament unbeaten but, in their quarter-final, they were seriously in trouble when they were reeling at 66/5, chasing 136.
There came Shahrukh Khan, who scored a brilliant 19-ball 40 and added unbeaten 75 runs in just 5.3 overs with Baba Aparajith to take Tamil Nadu to victory. Even in the final, Shahrukh Khan also played a quick-fire cameo of 18 off seven balls to help his team complete the chase comfortably. Shahrukh Khan made his T20 debut seven years back, but he made his name visible in the last three seasons.
It would be the perfect time for him to take his game to the next level through an IPL contract. With most of the teams looking for attacking finisher options, it should be easy for the young Shahrukh Khan to get a suitor this time.
Manimaran Siddharth made his debut for Tamil Nadu in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2020. He picked up 12 wickets and was promptly picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders during the last year’s IPL auction. It was understood that the then-KKR captain Dinesh Karthik was a big admirer for Siddharth.
However, although he made his first-class debut during the Ranji season, the IPL was delayed and finally took place in the UAE in the second half of 2020. Sidhdarth was part of the Knight Riders squad but failed to make his debut for the franchise and was also not retained before than 2021 auction.
He also did not play any match for Tamil Nadu leading to the final, and it looked like he was not anymore part of the future schemes. However, he got his opportunity in the final and showed his class with a 4-wicket haul. Kolkata Knight Riders will now must be thinking about whether their move to release the left-armer was smart.
Mohammed Azharuddeen became an overnight sensation with his memorable hundred against Mumbai during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Chasing a stiff 196 against the domestic super-power Mumbai, Azharuddeen scored a 37-ball hundred, the third-fastest among the Indians, and remained unbeaten on 137 as Kerala completed the chase within 16 hours.
He was the top scorer for his team with 214 runs with an astonishing strike rate of 194.54. He is a top-order batsman and has experience of 24 T20 matches along with 20 odd First-Class and List-A matches, including one First-Class century to his name. With domestic openers being hot property during the IPL auction, Azharuddeen can be a well-sought-after pick during the upcoming IPL auction.
The left-arm pacer from Baroda, Lukman Meriwala, finished the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as the second-highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets. The experienced pacer was the key reason for Baroda’s advance to the final, where they lost to Tamil Nadu. Meriwala’s 15 wickets came at an average of 13.26 and an economy rate of 6.52. He also had a five-wicket haul against Chhattisgarh.
Also, He had a key spell in the semi-final when he picked up three wickets for just 28 runs, including openers Prabhsimran Singh and Abhishek Sharma, as well as the tail-ender Sandeep Sharma. There are not many left-arm Indian seamers currently, and hence the rarity of his trade can be a blessing for Meriwala, who should expect to be picked during the IPL auction. He has 72 T20 wickets with an average below 15 and an economy rate below 7. If he gets picked, he can be an asset for his team.
Another Baroda player who should be in the rather for many IPL teams is Vishnu Solanki. The top-order batsman is the 5th highest run-scorer in the tournament with 267 runs with an average of 53.40 and a strike rate just below 130. His unbeaten 71 in the quarter-final against Haryana is one of the most memorable innings of the tournament, including a brilliant helicopter shot that helped his team victory on the last ball of the match.
He played a few more handy innings in the tournament including a 49 in the final which helped his team recover from 36/6 to 120/9 in the first innings. Solanki has played 41 T20 matches to date and has scored 4 fifty-plus scores in this format. With some of the more experienced players failing in the last IPL, teams may look to introduce some younger players in their squad, and Solanki can be a perfect fit.
In the absence of senior player Deepak Hooda and regular skipper Krunal Pandya, it was important for a strong character to lead the Baroda side from the front. The 31-year-old Kedar Devdhar took the opportunity to impress one and all with his skills. He scored 349 runs in eight innings at an average of 69.80 and strike-rate 113.68 and ended the tournament as the second-highest run-scorer. He helped Baroda reach the final and was there for the team as a captain and batter whenever the side needed his service. In the semi-final against Punjab, the Baroda captain hit a fine 49-ball 64.
Prior to that, his 43 off 40 balls in the quarter-final set the tone during Baroda’s chase against Haryana. Devdhar was unsold in IPL 2020, but after this game-changing performance is expected to focus on IPL 2021.