The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has written letters to state associations around the country, asking them to include all the IPL-bound players in their respective squads for the annual Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. The associations, however, have also informed that these players will not be available once the knockout stages get underway. The zonal T20 event has generally been a low-key affair with many of the players involved with IPL franchises giving it a miss and preferring to work on their fitness in the build-up to the blockbuster tourney.
“The BCCI has decided that all IPL players will have to play in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this time. We have informed the affiliates that no player can skip the zonal T20’s and join a franchise for IPL preparation instead,” BCCI game development manager Ratnakar Shetty informed.
Most of the IPL franchises generally organise their preparatory camps a month before the season begins. With the first 20 games of IPL7 to be held in the UAE, there is a good chance that the teams will be keen on sending their players there early to help them acclimatize with the conditions.
Clash of tourmaments
Previous editions of the Mushtaq Ali Trophy have also had the misfortune of clashing with ongoing IPL seasons, resulting in the tournament’s profile being lowered even further. With that not being the case this year, the BCCI is adamant on ensuring that they have most of the high-profile players on show in this year’s edition.
“The knock-outs will start in the second week of April when most of the IPL players will have to travel to the UAE a week prior to the IPL. So the associations have been told not to pick those players as most of them would have left,” said Shetty.
The board have also revealed that in case Mahendra Singh Dhoni & Co are knocked out of the World T20 at an early stage, it will be up to the respective state associations on whether to pick players from the Indian team presently playing the World T20 in Bangladesh for the Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has picked veteran pacer Zaheer Khan in their 30-member probables’ list for the zonal T20’s.