Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021: Top five bowlers to watch out for

Tamil Nadu were the winners of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 (Picture Credits: BCCI)
Tamil Nadu were the winners of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 (Picture Credits: BCCI)
Sooryanarayanan Sesha

The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 is set to commence on Thursday (November 4), kickstarting the Indian men's domestic season in the process. While five of them will be Elite Groups, eight teams will form part of the Plate Group as the Round Robin stage will be followed by the knockouts.

It is often said that batters win you matches but bowlers win you tournaments in cricket. This is a statement applies that applies well to the T20 format in particular. This can be seen in the manner in which Tamil Nadu's collective bowling effort saw them lift the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21.

Needless to say, the bowlers will have a massive say in the upcoming edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. There is an added context to the tournament with a mega auction ahead of the 2022 season of the IPL. So some of these bowlers will be under the watchful eyes of the scouts of various franchises.

Solid returns in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 could well fetch a contract for some of these young bowlers.

Here, we take a look at

Five bowlers to watch out for in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021

#5 KM Asif

KM Asif will hold the aces for Kerala in the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 (Picture Credits: Vipin Pawar/Sportzpics/IPL)
KM Asif will hold the aces for Kerala in the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 (Picture Credits: Vipin Pawar/Sportzpics/IPL)

KM Asif has been a regular feature for Kerala over the years and in recent times, has been part of their first XI too. With bustling action and a strong physique, Asif clocks speeds in excess of 140 kph. He hits the hard length on a regular basis to rush the batters. Barring this, Asif also has a pinpoint yorker which he is capable of executing at will.

Asif has been a part of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL since 2018. Opportunities have been hard to come by though with CSK using the services of Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur as their Indian seamers. Asif did get a game during the 2021 season though. He even picked up the wicket of Yashashvi Jaiswal off the first ball he bowled against the Rajasthan Royals.

Asif did so in a game where the more fancied names in his side took a massive hammering. This shows the temperament of the seamer to hold his own. A strong showing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 could well aid his cause in fetching another IPL contract at the mega auction. Who knows, CSK could well look at retaining his services as well given what he brings as a fast-bowling package.

#4 Vaibhav Arora

A swing bowler from Himachal Pradesh, Vaibhav Arora enjoyed fruitful returns in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21. Arora scapled 10 wickets from six games at a strike-rate of 13.60, whilst conceding runs at a good economy rate of 7.41 runs per over.

Arora was then rewarded with his maiden IPL deal that saw the Kolkata Knight Riders draft him into their roster. But Arora was all but a backup bowler in the side and could not get his cap throughout the campaign.

That said, the 23-year-old is a promising young talent who has also started well in first-class cricket, albeit across a small sample size. Scouts from various IPL franchises will certainly have their eye on Vaibhav Arora. Another good showing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy could see him bag another deal at the mega auction.

#3 Akash Deep

One of the vital cogs in Bengal's bowling attack, Akash Deep is one of the more promising seamers in the domestic circuit. A bustling fast-bowler, Akash Deep runs in with a lot of rhythm and has the capability to hurry the batter with his whippy action.

His returns in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 too make for good reading, as his seven wickets at a strike-rate of 15.40 would suggest.

Akash Deep was part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore contingent as a net bowler for the IPL 2021. An injury to Washington Sundar brought Akash Deep into the main squad as a replacement player. He didn't get an opportunity to play. But he would have certainly benefitted by picking the brains of the likes of Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson.

35 wickets across nine first-class games only add on to the growing stocks of Akash Deep. One should expect a good Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign from him.

We have seen quite a few stories of net bowlers getting into the main squad and enjoying a lot of success thereon. Can Akash Deep find himself in the main roster of RCB (or any other team) next season?

#2 Simarjeet Singh

It has been quite a journey for Delhi's Simarjeet Singh. The medium pacer was not contracted to any of the IPL sides earlier this year. But he was included as one of the traveling reserves during India's limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in July.

The Indian camp had an outbreak of a number of COVID-19 cases. This then saw Simarjeet and the other reserves drafted into the main squad for the final T20 international.

Thereafter, an injury to Arjun Tendulkar saw the Mumbai Indians draft Simarjeet into their squad as a replacement player. An economy rate of 8.81 in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is not the most eye-catching statistic. But a strike-rate of 13.7 certainly is. His wicket tally boasts of seven wickets across five games.

Simarjeet is a wicket taker and a regular in Delhi's lineup. A breakout season could well increase his stock among the uncapped Indian seam bowling options. Thereafter, of course, higher accolades could just be a mere formality for the Delhi lad.

#1 Khrievitso Kense

10 List A wickets across five games at a strike-rate of 29.4. Seven T20 wickets in four games at a strike-rate of 13.7 and an economy rate under six. There is a reason why there was a lot of chatter around Nagaland's Khrievitso Kense ahead of IPL 2021.

The 17-year-old leg-spinner was called up for a trial by the Mumbai Indians. While a full-time deal didn't materialize, he was signed up as one of their reserve players.

Congrats to Mr. Khrievitso Kense of #Nagaland on being selected as a support player for #MumbaiIndians in the @IPL. This is just the beginning of what should be a glorious & pathbreaking career ahead. @mipaltan @WeAreTeamIndia @IndiaSports @KirenRijiju @Neiphiu_Rio

It is well known that Mumbai Indians have a knack for identifying untapped potential in lesser-known players and grooming them into finished products. Cases in point for this are Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

While that isn't necessarily a factor to gage a player's potential, the excitement around Kense has been rather high. A full-fledged breakout season could define what lies ahead for Kense as he might well climb up the ladder rather quickly.

Kense having another standout Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign would also come as a shot in the arm for teams in the Plate Group. Not many players from those teams have had a big platform to showcase their potential. But Kense's rise could well spark off many more lesser-known players getting the requisite attention.

Will we see special talent create ripples and storm into the limelight then? It would be some story, wouldn't it?

Edited by Aditya Singh
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