Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra believes that Mohammed Azharuddeen could earn huge bucks at the upcoming IPL 2021 auctions after his blazing century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021. However, he observed Punit Bisht, who also played a similar knock, might not be that fortunate.
Azharuddeen smashed an unbeaten 137 off just 54 deliveries to help Kerala chase down a massive 197-run target against Mumbai. Bisht, on the other hand, blasted an unbeaten 146 off just 51 deliveries as Meghalaya outclassed Mizoram by 130 runs.
Aakash Chopra spoke at length about the star performers in yesterday's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy encounters, in a video shared on his Facebook page.
The reputed commentator started by pointing out that Kerala were chasing a mammoth target against Mumbai. He said that the most successful team in Ranji Trophy history was certainly the favorite, despite the presence of stars like Robin Uthappa, S Sreesanth, and Sanju Samson in the Kerala line-up.
"Mohammed Azharuddeen, when he came to bat at the Wankhede, Mumbai, which is a strong opposition, had posted a huge total. Kerala might have Robin Uthappa, Sreesanth might be making a comeback and there is Sanju Samson as well, but Mumbai is Mumbai," said Aakash Chopra.
Aakash Chopra highlighted that Mohammed Azharuddeen massacred a decent Mumbai attack, having established bowlers like Dhawal Kulkarni and Tushar Deshpande.
"This guy destroys the Mumbai bowlers, scores a 37-ball century. The team had scored around 150 runs in 10 overs and he had scored his century. The opposition had bowlers like Dhawal Kulkarni and Tushar Deshpande and there was grass on the pitch."
Aakash Chopra observed that Azharuddeen's knock made him an overnight sensation. Even experts like Harsha Bhogle and Virender Sehwag were effusive in their praise for him.
"But what batting this guy did, the big shots he played, one thing is clear that when you win a match like this, the whole cricketing world erupted last night. Harsha Bhogle wrote something, Virender Sehwag wrote something, everybody was singing praises."
Aakash Chopra also pointed out that the 26-year-old is not a newcomer in the domestic circuit and is known more for his aggressive batting than his consistency.
"He has been playing first-class cricket since 2015. He does not have great numbers in first-class cricket, he has an average of 25 in twenty-odd matches. He is a wicket-keeper batsman who opens. Even in T20s, he has scored around 400 runs but his strike rate has been amazing."
While highlighting that the wicketkeeper-batsman has been named after the Indian stalwart Mohammad Azharuddin, Aakash Chopra said that the Kerala player could be a hot commodity at the IPL 2021 auctions.
"When he was born, his brother asked him to be named after the legend Azharuddin. He has started to take that path and it will be interesting because there is an auction after a month and the attention goes towards televised matches when Harsha, Virender Sehwag and other people talk about someone. It is possible he might be bought at a huge price."
"No one will pay attention when Punit Bisht's name comes in the auction" - Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra noted that Meghalaya skipper Punit Bisht had played a similar knock as that of Azharuddeen in a Plate Group encounter against Mizoram.
However, Chopra believes Bisht might not find takers at the IPL auctions because the match was not televised. The standard of his batting or the opposition bowling attack was thus not known.
"But then comes a question, everyone saw the televised match but we don't give a level playing field to everyone because the same day there was another match between Meghalaya and Mizoram. Of course it is a lower tier match but there is a player named Punit Bisht, a keeper-batsman who used to play for Delhi earlier, he hit 17 sixes and scored 140-plus runs and demolished the opposition team but no one saw that," said Aakash Chopra.
"So when his name comes in the auction no one will pay attention because of two reasons, firstly that no one saw the quality of his batting and then it was a lower-tier match so the quality of the opposition will not be known," he added.
Aakash Chopra also expressed his joy on seeing his former Ranji team Rajasthan performing well. Rahul Chahar starred with the ball for them in yesterday's encounter.
"Rajasthan is once again on fire. Rahul Chahar took 5 wickets in his four overs. His elder brother Deepak conceded 40 runs in four overs in the same match. Rajasthan actually has a good team with players like Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Ravi Bishnoi, Aniket Chaudhury and Khaleel Ahmed, who actually bowled well."
The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 certainly provides a great opportunity for domestic players to put their names in contention for the upcoming IPL 2021 auctions. With the absence of scouts at all venues due to COVID-related restrictions, the IPL teams are more likely to opt for players who perform well in televised matches against strong opposition.Published 14 Jan 2021, 19:26 IST