The 15th edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) got underway on Tuesday (October 11). The tournament will be played from October 11 to November 5 in six different venues.
There are 38 teams fighting for the ultimate prize. Tamil Nadu are the defending champions and will be gunning for a record fourth title. Over the years, the domestic tournament has been a great platform for young talents to show what they're all about, with plenty of IPL scouts keeping an eye on them.
This year will be no different either, with a number of players looking to make the most of their opportunities to shine on the big stage. On that note, let's take a look at five batters to watch out for at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022/23.
#1 Yash Dhull
Yash Dhull was India's captain at the previous U-19 World Cup, starring in the tournament with 229 runs in four matches. His extraordinary performances earned him a deal with the Delhi Capitals last season but the youngster didn't feature in a single game.
He made his mark in the Ranji Trophy, scoring twin hundreds in his debut game against Tamil Nadu. The Delhi batter followed that up with a double hundred against Chhattisgarh. He has amassed 783 runs in 11 first-class innings and has impressed with his strokemaking.
This year's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy presents him with an opportunity to dominate the domestic circuit and force his way not only into the Delhi Capitals playing XI but maybe even the Indian team in the near future.
#2 Chethan LR
The Karnataka batter has been making waves with his big-hitting exploits in recent times. Chethan LR was one of the standout performers for the Bengaluru Blasters in the Maharaja T20 Trophy this year.
The opening batter was the second-highest run-scorer in the tournament with 447 runs in 12 matches. His strike rate was a shade over 173, which stands out with his boundary-hitting potential. The 22-year-old is already on the radar of a few teams and will definitely be one to keep an eye on during Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022/23.
#3 G Ajitesh
Finishers are a rare and prized commodity in T20 cricket and there are only a few better in the Indian domestic circuit than G Ajitesh. The Tamil Nadu player starred for the Nellai Royal Kings in the TNPL this season, scoring 129 runs at an average of 43.
He led the way in the tournament in terms of strike rate, head and shoulders above the rest. Ajitesh's strike rate of 243.40 was far superior to the next player on the list, Sanjay Yadav (186.78).
He started off this year's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with a brilliant eight-ball 23 which ended in a losing cause. With his exploits at the death, this could be a breakout tournament for the Tamil Nadu finisher.
#4 N Tilak Varma
N Tilak Varma made his mark in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the Mumbai Indians this year. The southpaw batter was impressive for the five-time champions, scoring 397 runs (including two fifties) at an average of 36.09 and a strike-rate of 131.02.
He followed that up with a century for the India A side against New Zealand A recently. The former U-19 star has been churning out runs at every opportunity and will be looking to do the same for Hyderabad at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, making him one to keep an eye on.
#5 Abdul Samad
Abdul Samad has been with the Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2020. However, his opportunities have been limited in the side, especially in the previous season of the IPL. Understandably so, since he hasn't exactly set the stage on fire with 226 runs from 25 matches.
The Jammu and Kashmir player has scored 775 runs in 47 matches at a strike rate of 145 in his T20 career. He has earned a reputation as a dasher and has consistently delivered away from the spotlight as well. Perhaps this year's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy could be the season where he finally embraces the spotlight.
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