ECB refuses proposals from BCCI, TNCA; 1st Test to remain behind 'closed doors'
2 Feb 2021
After the conclusion of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021, the next road for the Indian domestic players leads up to the IPL mini-auction which are scheduled to take place on 18th February 2021. The SMAT was a real testing ground and a lot of players showcased their brilliant talent and the names include the likes of Kings XI Punjab’s Prabhsimaran Singh, Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Siddarth Kaul, Chennai Super Kings’ Narayan Jagadeesan and R Sai Kishore.
However, there were few performers who either haven’t got a team or have been released by theirs and yet performed brilliantly in the tournament to get noticed by the media as well as the scouts.
Part of the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, Manimaran Siddarth didn’t get a chance in front of more accomplished spinners like Varun Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav. Even in SMAT, he wasn’t given a chance until the Final. But once he got the opportunity, the slow left-arm bowler made sure that he doesn’t let go of the opportunity and picked up four wickets in just his first three overs to send chills down the Baroda batting lineup.
He is not a big turner of the ball, the action is also clean and thus on Indian pitches, he could be a great prospect. Considering that he is just 22 years of age, teams might go for him as a future investment too.
The star of the SMAT without a doubt. He might not be the highest run-getter, neither the ost prolific hitter o the ball, but he scored when it mattered the most. From taking his team through the quarter-finals by scoring the last 16 runs in just three balls, to being there till then against all odds in the final against Tamil Nadu and making sure that his team reached a fighting total of 120, Solanki is the kind of middle-order batsman that every team would want to have.
It’s not like he performed only in the knockouts, rather in the entire tournament he scored 367 runs in eight innings with an average of 53.40 and a healthy strike rate of more than 128. Moreover, Solanki, 28, has experience of playing on Indian pitches by his side, having made his T20 debut way back in 2013. In his entire career, he has scored 807 runs in 34 innings with an average of more than 35 and a strike rate touching 129.
Although one-game sensation in the tournament as far as his heroics are concerned, but with that single performance only, Kerala’s Mohammaed Azharuddeen made everyone notice him. His 137* off 54 balls against an established side like Mumbai, in a televised game, meant that everybody took notice. Although he wasn’t able to back it up with more solid performances, still his potential to hit big is good enough to earn him a decent contract in the upcoming auctions.
He scored a total 214 runs in five innings at an average of 53.50 and a strike rate of 194.54 in the entire SMAT 2021. The only thing that can go against him is his inconsistent nature of batting.
Another star for Baroda this season, Lukman Meriwala hit his best form, picking 15 wickets in eight games and turning out to be real match-winner in few of the games, winning matches singlehandedly with his performances with the ball. The semi-final against a star-studded Punjab batting lineup was once such game where he broke the back o the Punjab batting by picking the wickets of their two best batsmen in Prabhsimarn and Abhishek Sharma very early in the innings.
While taking the 15 wickets, his average remained a brilliant 13.76 while his economy rate hovered around 6.5 which is exceptional for a fast bowler. With a best of 5/8 this 29-year-old left-arm pacer from Makan, Baroda packs a punch and should be a key prospect in the upcoming IPL auction, especially for teams looking for domestic pacers.
Coming from the picturesque town of Ooty, Hari Nishanth is a beautiful hitter of the ball as he showcased in this edition of the SMAT, scoring 246 runs in eight innings with the best score of 92 unbeaten against Jharkhand. Initially, he was hitting the balls amazingly, but the form waned out a bit in the laster part of the tournament and that is the only thing that might go against the left-hander.
Another batsman from the this year’s SMAT winning team set up, Shahrukh Khan is different from the rest in the sense that he is a ‘see the ball hit the ball’ kind of batsman, who is most likely to be picked by teams as they are looking for such talents to inculcate in their team. Another thing that plays in his favour is that he is not inconsistent, meaning that id he gets an opportunity to bat, he makes sure that the opportunity is utilised. He showed a glimpse of it in the recently concluded SMAT as he remained not out in the three out of the four innings that he got to bat in.
Shahrukh is a big hitter, a prolific finisher and someone who could roll his arm over as well, apart from being a brilliant fielder. A perfect package in a giant-sized man who shares his name with the biggest cine star of the present era, the Chennai born has his best shot at being picked in this year’s auction.
The Gujarati, who found a place in Saurashtra team finally had a season to be proud of as after making his first-class debut in 2011 for Gujarat, he hadn’t really had a season where he could claim a spot in the team without an if or but. The 28-year old however made good use of his potential, scoring a scintillating century (122) against Goa apart from hitting a 44 ball 93 against Vidarbha.
In total, he scored 383 runs in just five innings at an average of 56 and a strike rate of more than 184, the highest among the top five run-scorers in the SMAT 2021.
The one-man Army Bihar has been smashing records consistently but hasn’t git the reward he must have by now. After becoming the highest wicket-taker in a Ranji Trophy season, he has now topped the wickets chart in this year’s SMAT. Aman, 34, took 16 wickets in just six innings with an unbelievable average of 7.62 and an economy rate of 5.08. No doubt that he played most of his matches against Plate teams, but so did so many other players, yet he was the only one to come out on the top.
It wasn’t only against Plate teams that he performed well, the left-arm orthodox bowler even did well against an established side like Rajasthan as well. The ball with which he took out the Rajasthan opener Bharat Sharma was one o the best deliveries of the tournament when a ball pitching on the middle stump just turned the right amount to pick the off stump shattering all the defences of a quality batter.
Aman is no mug with the bat either as he has to his credit a century in first-class along with four fifties. The skipper of Bihar has 161 scalps in domestic cricket in just over three years of active competitive cricket, suggesting that he is hungry to perform well. Even after such record-breaking performances, he is not picked up by anyone, then it would be really unfortunate for him and Bihar cricket.
Another one of those many talented cricketers who were born in Bihar but chose to play for a neighbouring state due to lack of infrastructure, Akash Deep is a great swing bowler from Bengal. He wasn’t at his best in this year’s SMAT he could pick only seven wickets in five games. But his one spell against the Hyderabad side showed what he is capable of doing as he picked 4/35 in this game. But this is not the only thing to make a case for himself in the IPL auction. Even in the last Ranji season, he picked 35 wickets to go along with his 15 wickets in the last year’s SMAT.
Ankit Rajpoot already has a taste of IPL having played for the Royals in the last season and represented many teams over the last six seasons that he has played. He has 24 wickets in 29 IPL games and even after not being able to put in a great performance for the Uttar Pradesh unit in the SMAT 2021, chances are that he would be one o the highest-paid unpaid Indian stars.
Having picked 101 wickets in 82 T20 games, he has experience on his side and hence is likely to be backed by franchises to be picked.
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