A total of 20 CSK and MI players featured in the recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and, unfortunately for the two clubs, it was a tournament to forget for a vast majority of those 20. So, who impressed? Who didn’t? Who is bound to get more game time in IPL 2021? Who might warm the bench?
Suryakumar Yadav - 75 runs in 5 innings @ average 15.00 and SR 150.0
Things were not-so-smooth in SMAT 2020/21 for the golden boy of IPL 2020, who endured a torrid time in the T20 competition. In 5 innings, Suryakumar Yadav failed to post a single fifty and displayed sparks of brilliance in only one innings - the 38 versus Kerala. His batting was a disappointment, but, more worryingly, his captaincy was a disaster: under his leadership, Mumbai finished bottom of Elite Group E, losing 4 of their 5 games.
Ishan Kishan - 142 runs in 5 innings @ average 28.40 and SR 125.66
Kishan did not have a tournament as bad as Suryakumar Yadav, yet, by his own high standards, the southpaw had an underwhelming campaign. Barring a 60 vs Odisha, Kishan failed to pass 30 in each of his 4 other knocks and struck his runs at an innocuous SR of 125.66. Like SKY, Kishan’s captaincy was a miss, with Jharkhand finishing third in their group, failing to make the quarter-finals.
Rahul Chahar - 11 wickets in 5 innings @ ER 6.55
Chahar jr. enjoyed an outstanding, Rashid Khan-esque campaign, having no off games in the entire tournament. His campaign hit its zenith in the game against Madhya Pradesh, where an impeccable five-wicket haul helped Rajasthan pull off an unlikely heist. Being selected as a ‘standy player’ for team India meant that he, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to play in the knockouts.
Krunal Pandya - 4 wickets in 3 innings @ ER 6.66; 77 runs in 2 innings @ average 38.50 and SR 163.82
The untimely, tragic demise of his father meant that Krunal Pandya had to quit SMAT 2021 midway, but the veteran impressed in the limited matches he played. Pandya Sr. was disciplined with the ball and produced a match-winning inning with the bat - 76 versus Uttarakhand - in the three games he played and maintained a 100% win record as captain to lay the platform for Baroda.
Dhawal Kulkarni - 0 wickets in 4 innings @ ER 7.84
The experienced Dhawal Kulkarni had a season to forget, flabbergastingly picking no wickets across any of the 4 games he played, despite taking the new ball. This included a torching at the hands of Kerala, who, propelled by Azharuddeen, smacked 201 in 15.5 overs.
Aditya Tare - 56 runs in 4 innings @ average 14.00 and SR 112.0
In the absence of other senior batsmen, Aditya Tare failed to live up to expectations. Barring a brisk 42 versus Kerala, the 33-year-old registered three single-digit scores, contributing to Mumbai’s miserable campaign.
Saurabh Tiwary - 92 runs in 4 innings @ average 23.00 and SR 116.45
A match-winning 57 versus Assam in Jharkhand’s second game was the highlight of Saurbh Tiwary’s season, but, beyond that innings, the southpaw was a disappointment. He failed to cross 20 in each of the three other innings and, worse, struck at less than run-a-ball.
Jayant Yadav - 7 wickets in 6 innings @ ER 6.14
One of the unlikely heroes in the IPL 2020 final, Jayant Yadav had a season to remember. The off-spinner maintained a miserly ER of 6.14 in the competition, conceding over 30 just once all tournament, and marked his campaign with a match-winning 4-fer versus Mumbai. His exploits propelled Haryana to the QFs, where they were excruciatingly knocked out by Baroda.
Anukul Roy - 1 wickets in 5 innings @ ER 8.76; 57 runs in 4 innings @ average 28.50 and SR 150.00
The boy with the golden arm did not quite weave his magic with the ball in SMAT 2020/21 but showcased his three-dimensionality in the game against Hyderabad, where he struck a 13-ball 28* to help Jharkhand tie the game from a hopeless position.
Mohsin Khan - 5 wickets in 3 innings at ER 7.09
Not many youngsters skyrocketed their stocks in SMAT 2021, but one such was Mohsin Khan. Representing Uttar Pradesh, the young left-arm seamer impressed, bowling alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar, picking at least a wicket in each of the three games he played. Mohsin’s standout performance came against J&K, where he returned figures of 2/17 in a game where the other U.P bowlers leaked 103 runs off 11 overs.
Anmolpreet Singh - 66 runs in 4 innings @ average 22.00 and SR 117.85
The prolificity of the Punjab openers meant that Anmolpreet Singh’s chances with the bat were few and far between, but the right-hander, nevertheless, in the new-found middle-order role, failed to impress. A 35 versus Uttar Pradesh aside, Anmolpreet did not contribute to the side’s cause, and, most importantly, failed in the semi-final in the one game where the openers failed to deliver.
Chennai Super Kings
Suresh Raina - 102 runs in 5 innings @ average 34.00 and SR 115.90
Suresh Raina’s much-awaited return to professional cricket turned out to be scratchy. He began his SMAT 2020/21 campaign with a flummoxing, borderline match-losing 50-ball 56* versus Punjab in a failed chase of 135, and, then afterward, did not stand up with the bat in the crunch encounters for U.P. Raina’s indifferent form saw his side finish second-to-bottom in Elite Group A, behind Railways and J&K.
Ambati Rayudu - 115 runs in 5 innings @ average 38.33 and SR 155.40
After a poor start to the season, posting scores of 13 and 1 in his first two games, Rayudu found his hands midway through SMAT 2020/21 and finished the season strongly. The right-hander played two bludgeoning cameos towards the back end - 62*(26) vs Puducherry and 38*(27) vs Kerala - and showcased the vintage hitting ability of his. It was, however, unfortunately not enough to rescue the sinking ship that was Andhra.
Ruturaj Gaikwad - 94 runs in 5 innings @ average 18.80 and SR 116.04
The second-highest run-getter from the 2019/20 SMAT turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the 2020/21 edition. Coming on the back of a mind-bogglingly good stretch in the IPL, Gaikwad played no knocks of significance, finishing with a high score of 33, which too came off 31 deliveries. Gaikwad’s no-show contributed to Maharashtra finishing second-to-bottom in their group, below Uttarakhand.
Deepak Chahar - 4 wickets in 4 innings @ ER 7.41
Deepak Chahar started SMAT 2020/21 in fine fashion, picking a Man-of-the-Match worthy 3/10 versus Vidarbha, but only managed to pick a solitary wicket in his last three games. The elder Chahar did not strike inside the powerplay in any of his last three games - a pattern that began in IPL 2020 - and was overshadowed by his bowling partner Aniket Choudhary throughout the campaign. Eventually, a niggle cut his season short, with him missing each of Rajasthan’s last three matches.
N Jagadeesan - 364 runs in 8 innings @ average 72.80 and SR 141.08
Having dominated the TNPL for years, Narayan Jagadeesan announced himself to the big stage with a stunning showing in SMAT 2020/21. Opening the batting, Jagadeesan finished as the tournament’s highest run-getter, and in the process equalled the record for the most consecutive fifty-plus scores in the competition’s history (4). Though he fizzled out in the knockouts, Jagadeesan was mighty impressive in the group stages, where he architected four consecutive chases (78*, 61, 78* and 71*). With this performance, the 25-year-old is now a front-runner to open for CSK in IPL 2021.
R Sai Kishore - 8 wickets in 8 games at ER 4.82
For the second season running, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore produced performances worthy of deeming him the best up-and-coming young spinner in the country. Though he did not enjoy a season as prolific as 2019/20, Sai Kishore, taking the new ball, laid the foundation for TN in every single game. He peaked in the knockouts, particularly in the semis and the finals, where he returned ludicrous combined figures of 8-1-27-2. It would certainly beggar belief should he not get his first IPL cap in the forthcoming season.
Karn Sharma - 4 wickets in 3 innings @ ER 5.58; 46 runs in 2 innings @ average 23.00 and SR 143.75
Surprisingly retained by CSK for a sum of INR 5 crore, Karn Sharma had a satisfying outing in SMAT 2020/21. The leg-spinner blew Tripura away with an all-round performance in his very first game - notably a match-winning 45 with the bat - and sustained discipline with the ball throughout the campaign. His exploits, however, were not enough to propel Railways into the knockouts.
KM Asif - 6 wickets in 5 innings @ ER 8.64
Despite not being thrown the new ball, KM Asif turned out to be the pick of the Kerala seamers in SMAT 2020/21, and the team’s second best bowler, behind Jalaj Saxena. Used predominantly at the middle and the death, Asif’s best night came against Mumbai at the Wankhede, where he finished with figures of 3/25 in a match which saw every other bowler across both teams concede over 7.50. The right-armer was pacy and skiddy as ever, and finished with the best ER among all Kerala pacers.
Robin Uthappa - 161 runs in 5 innings @ average 32.00 and SR 140.00
Robin Uthappa’s trade to CSK was received with a collective sigh of disappointment from the fans, but in SMAT 2020/21 the veteran gave the Yellow Army reasons to remain optimistic about his arrival. Though his season ended in a disappointing note, there were shades of Vintage Robbie in the 35-year-old’s first three games of the season. Across the first 3 matches, Uthappa struck 154 runs, the highlight of which was a startling 54-ball 91 versus Delhi, in which Kerala chased down 213 in 19 overs. Uthappa might be a player past his peak, but, in SMAT 2020/21, he showed there is enough cricket left in him to affect games of cricket.