Picking the best playing XI from Deodhar Trophy 2023 ft. Riyan Parag and Vidwath Kaverappa

Mayank Agarwal and Riyan Parag were the batting stars of the tournament
Mayank Agarwal and Riyan Parag were the batting stars of the tournament

The Deodhar Trophy made a spectacular return to the Indian domestic circuit after a three-year hiatus and provided Indian cricket lovers with several high-flying performances and thrilling games.

India's most prestigious 50-over tournament witnessed the six zonal teams battling one another before South Zone and East Zone emerged as the finalists, having finished in the top two of the points table.

In the summit clash, South Zone defeated East Zone by 45 runs on the back of a sensational batting performance, to be crowned as champions of the Deodhar Trophy. It was their eighth title and the first since 2001-02.

The tournament saw six centuries and two five wicket-hauls, with Riyan Parag as the leading run-scorer (354 runs) and Vidwath Kaverappa the top wicket-taker (13 wickets).

As is always the case, selecting a playing XI from the numerous impressive performers was a task in itself, and it has been done based on the numbers and the fit for team balance.

With that in mind, let us cut right to the best-playing XI from the Deodhar Trophy 2023 without further delay.

Openers - Mayank Agarwal and Rohan Kunnummal

The South Zone openers were instrumental in the side's title run.
The South Zone openers were instrumental in the side's title run.

Perhaps the easiest decision in the playing XI was the choice of the openers, with the South Zone opening pair of Mayank Agarwal and Rohan Kunnummal making their selection automatic.

Agarwal was the second-leading run-scorer of the competition with 341 runs in six games, including four half-centuries at an average of 68.20. His opening partner Kunnummal wasn't far behind, scoring 311 runs at 62.20 and a phenomenal strike rate of 123.90.

The duo also shared a match-winning partnership of 181 from 148 deliveries in the grand finale, with Kunnummal scoring a majestic 107 off 75 deliveries.

Middle-order - Yash Dubey, Sai Sudharsan, and Shivam Choudhary

Sai Sudharsan continued his rich vein of form for South Zone.
Sai Sudharsan continued his rich vein of form for South Zone.

South Zone star Sai Sudharsan and Central Zone's Yash Dubey come in at No.3 and No.4, respectively, in the playing XI. Despite playing in only half of the side's matches, the Sudharsan finished seventh in the run-scoring chart for the tournament. The 21-year-old scored 204 runs in three games at an incredible average of 102, including a century and a half-century.

On the other hand, Dubey was sensational with the bat for a struggling Central Zone side that won only one out of their five games. He scored 293 runs at a healthy average of 58.60, with three half-centuries in five games.

Dubey will be joined by his Central Zone teammate Shivam Choudary at No.5. The duo was lone warriors with the bat for the side that finished second to last in the points table. Choudary scored 193 runs in the middle order at an average of 48.25 and also provided a valuable part-time off-spin option, with four wickets at an economy rate of under four runs per over.

All-rounder and Wicket-Keeper- Riyan Parag and Kumar Kushagra (wk)

Riyan Parag had a memorable Deodhar Trophy with bat and ball.
Riyan Parag had a memorable Deodhar Trophy with bat and ball.

Coming in at No.6 is the Player of the Tournament Riyan Parag, who owned the 2023 Deodhar Trophy with his all-around heroics. The 21-year-old was the only batter who scored multiple centuries and finished as the leading run-scorer in the competition.

Parag pulled East Zone out of trouble with two masterful centuries in the league stages to propel them into the final. In the summit clash, the right-handed batter almost churned out another miracle, scoring 95 off 65 deliveries in an improbable run chase before being dismissed just short of another century.

Further to his scintillating batting, the youngster also starred with his leg-break bowling to finish as the sixth leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps at an average of less than 20. Despite barely missing out on clinching the title, the tournament will forever be remembered for Riyan Parag's masterpieces.

Parag will be joined by his East Zone teammate Kumar Kushagra as the wicket-keeper of the best 11. At just 18, Kushagra stunned fans with numerous impact knocks, none more so than his 68 off 58 deliveries in the final against South Zone.

The wicketkeeper-batter scored 227 runs at an impressive average of 56.75 and a strike rate of 109.13 with three half-centuries despite batting lower down the order.

Bowlers - Shams Mulani, Vidwath Kaverappa, MP Yadav, and Vasuki Koushik

Vidwath Kaverappa continued his magical domestic season with the ball.
Vidwath Kaverappa continued his magical domestic season with the ball.

The spin bowling department was undoubtedly the hardest to decide, with several tweakers putting in strong performances. However, considering the presence of Riyan Parag already in the lineup for the leg-spin option and Shivam Chawdhary for some part-time off-spin, selecting a left-arm spinner would be a wise choice.

Off-spinner Washington Sundar (8 wickets in 6 matches), the star with the ball in the final, and leg-spinner Karn Sharma (8 scalps in 5 games) missed the cut thanks to the preference for a left-arm spinner.

The decision wasn't straightforward even then, with three slow-left-arm-orthodox spinners making an equally strong case for selection to the best-playing XI. However, for leading a weak West Zone bowling attack with no other bowler picking up even half as many wickets, Shams Mulani gets the nod as the specialist spinner.

Although tied on wickets with Shahbaz Ahmed, Mulani picked up his 12 wickets at an incredible average of 16.25 and an economy rate of just 3.90 runs per over. His other competitor for the spot was South Zone's Sai Kishore, with 11 wickets in five games. However, Sai Kishore enjoyed a terrific batting lineup and pace attack, easing the pressure on him compared to Mulani.

The three-men pace attack was much more straightforward, with South Zone's Vidwath Kaverappa and Vasuki Koushik joining North Zone's MP Yadav.

Kaverppa followed up on his outstanding Duleep Trophy with another magnificent showing in the 50-over competition. He finished as the leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets at an average of 14.53 and an economy rate of 4.70 runs per over.

Joining Kaverappa will be his South Zone teammate Vasuki Koushik, who finished nine wickets in five games at an average of 14.55 and a miserly economy rate of 3.74.

The South Zone pace duo will be supported by MP Yadav of North Zone, who picked up 12 wickets ( joint-second leading wicket-taker) at an average of 17.57.

Best playing XI from Deodhar Trophy 2023

Mayank Agarwal (c), Rohan Kunnummal, Yash Dubey, Sai Sudharsan, Shivam Choudhary, Riyan Parag, Kumar Kushagra (wk), Shams Mulani, Vidwath Kaverappa, MP Yadav, and Vasuki Koushik.

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Edited by Ankush Das
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