All eyes will be on the Indian Premier League 2021 auction on Thursday as a total of 292 players will be part of the pool that the eight teams of the T20 tournament will be choosing from.
This pool of players will include 164 Indian cricketers and while there are some big names who will be going under the hammer, there are also a number of uncapped Indian players who the franchises might want to look at.
The recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – India’s premier domestic T20 competition – provided a good platform for unheralded talents to come on the radar of IPL teams.
The tournament saw Tamil Nadu emerge as champions and had a number of superb individual performances that brought attention to relatively unknown players.
Here’s a look at five uncapped Indian players who impressed the most in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy:
The 26-year-old shot to fame with a sensational century against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium. His 137 was the highest T20 score by an Indian in a chase. Azharuddeen scored 214 runs in five innings at a superb strike-rate of 194.54.
What works in the right-hander’s favour apart from his impressive strokeplay is the fact that he is a wicketkeeper too. Franchises in the IPL auction will be on the lookout for Indian keepers to strengthen their squads and Azharuddeen could be high on their list.
The Kerala batsman, who made his first-class debut back in 2015, has played 24 T20s so far and has scored 451 runs at a strike-rate of 142.27.
Sakariya was the sixth-highest wicket-taker in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but his economy-rate of 4.90 was the best in the tournament among the top 22 wicket-takers. The left-arm pacer played five matches and picked up 12 wickets, which included a match-winning five-for against Vidarbha.
The 22-year-old isn’t the quickest fast-bowler going around but his variations and accuracy were mighty impressive in the domestic T20 tournament.
Sakariya made his first-class debut for Saurashtra in 2018 and has been a consistent performer for his state side in the longest format too. He has played 16 T20s in total, picking 28 wickets with an economy-rate of 7.08.
Although he wasn’t anywhere near the highest run-scorers in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Khan managed to make quite an impression with his big-hitting abilities in a couple of knocks in Tamil Nadu’s title-winning run.
In a tense chase in the quarter-final against Himachal Pradesh, the explosive right-hander hit an unbeaten 40 off 19 to take his team over the line. He came in at No 7 and smashed five fours and two sixes to grab headlines. In the final too, he remained not out on 18 off 7 to finish the job for his team.
Khan played his first of 31 T20s for Tamil Nadu back in 2014 but has struggled to find a permanent spot in the side, scoring 293 runs in total at a strike-rate of 131.39. His recent exploits under pressure, though, could take him places.
Meriwala was the second-highest wicket-taker in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and played a key role in Baroda reaching the final. He bagged 15 wickets in eight matches, including a match-winning five-wicket haul (his career-best figures in the shortest format) against Chhattisgarh, and also had an impressive economy-rate of 6.52 in the tournament.
The 29-year-old left-arm pacer showed a good temperament by delivering a fine spell of 3/28 in the semi-final as Baroda got the better of Punjab. He also has plenty of experience, having made his T20 debut for his state side back in 2013. He has played 44 T20s in total, picking 72 wickets with an economy-rate of 6.72.
Meriwala has shown he can crank up the pace and along with his skillful variations, he could be a handy addition for any of the IPL teams.
With the bat, it was Solanki, along with Kedar Debdhar, who made the biggest contribution for Baroda as they made their way to the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final. Solanki scored 267 runs in eight matches, with two half-centuries and a strike-rate of 128.36 through the tournament.
His best knock came in the quarter-final against Haryana when he bailed his team out of a tight spot and hit an unbeaten, match-winning 71 off 46. With Baroda needing 15 runs to win off the last three balls, the right-hander’s burst of 6, 4 and 6, which included a helicopter shot at the end, was one of the highlights of the tournament.
The 28-year-old, who fought a lone battle for his team in the final with a 49 batting at No 3, made his T20 debut for Baroda back in 2013. He has scored 807 in total in the shortest format, at a strike-rate of 128.91. The composure he showed under pressure, combined with his impressive strokeplay, could fetch him an IPL team in the upcoming auction.