The Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 is the breeding ground for future stars. Scouts from Indian Premier League franchises throng the grounds to identify talent.
As cricket returns to India this Sunday, in a bio-secure bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s a look at the promising players featuring in the inter-state competition.
Devdutt Padikkal (Karnataka): Tall, elegant and attacking. Left-hand batsman Padikkal had a major hand in Karnataka’s triumph in the 2019-20 season. He scored 580 runs, including one hundred and five fifties, to eventually earn an IPL call-up. He was Royal Challengers Bangalore’s top-scorer with 473 runs.
T20 Highest score: 122 not out
Ruturaj Gaikwad (Maharashtra): The talented right-hander scored 419 runs in the last edition of the tournament and was poised to shine with Chennai Super Kings. However, his maiden IPL campaign didn’t start as smoothly as he tested positive for COVID-19. He recovered and smashed three flamboyant fifties in the yellow jersey to stamp his authority.
T20 Highest score: 82 not out
Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad in action. – FILE PHOTO/ SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR
R. Sai Kishore (Tamil Nadu): Lanky left-arm spinner Sai Kishore was instrumental in Tamil Nadu’s run to the final in the 2019-20 edition. The 24-year-old picked up 20 wickets from 12 matches to become the leading wicket-taker of the tournament and soon earned himself an IPL contract with Chennai Super Kings.
T20 Best bowling: 4/6
R Sai Kishore topped the bowling chart in the 2019/20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with 20 wickets from 12 matches. – VIJAY SONEJI
Sreesanth (Kerala): After a seven-year break, the former India pacer will be marking his return to competitive cricket through the tournament. The 37-year-old’s fitness and skills will be put to the test as he returns to Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium – 10 years after making his last ODI appearance for India at the venue in the World Cup final.
T20 Best bowling: 3/29
Sreesanth during a training session in Mumbai on Friday. – Vivek Bendre
Harshal Patel (Haryana): A domestic workhorse by all means, Patel led Haryana to its first semfinal appearance in eight years in the tournament with his all-round exploits last season. He finished as the joint-second wicket-taker with 19 wickets from 12 matches while his lusty blows with the bat fetched him 374 runs at a strike rate of 165.
T20 Highest score: 82
T20 Best bowling: 3/14
Patel finished as the joint-second highest wicket-taker with 19 wickets from 12 matches while his lusty blows with the bat fetched him 374 runs at a strike rate of 165. – TWITTER