A national T20 tournament just before the IPL should have been a high profile affair. But with almost all the big names cooling their heels or nursing injuries,a very low-key Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament began at Indore on Tuesday.
Delhi have come sans Virender Sehwag,Gautam Gambhir and Mithun Manhas,who are out due to different reasons. Skipper Rajat Bhatia too is not available for the first two matches. Baroda are missing Pathan brothers Yusuf and Irfan as well as Munaf Patel. Yusuf is getting married on Wednesday and his reception is on Saturday. Irfan played the zonal leg but injured his hamstring and was ruled out for 10 days. Patel too is sidelined with an elbow injury which he suffered during the last match of the West Zone leg.
Ambati Rayudu was set to lead the side but he too is out after hurting his Achilles tendon. Aditya Waghmode will lead Baroda in his absence.
Star quotient is low due to bad timing as well. Ideally,the domestic season should be over by March 15 to allow the cricketers rest and recovery time before the IPL. They have been playing non-stop. Also,the national T20 should be played in February,before the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-overs tournament). Lots of players dont have IPL teams. But now this tournament has become insignificant for them. Even if they do well here,they are not going be offered IPL contracts as all franchises have finalised their teams. It would have been better to play the one-dayers later, Baroda coach Sanath Kumar says.
Punjab coach Arun Sharma concurs. At the same time,however,he says that the BCCI technical committee acted as per the suggestions given by the captains of the state teams.
Yes,it would have been logical to hold this tournament in February with an eye on the IPL. But then,the captains of the state teams wanted this to be the season-ender and the BCCI acted accordingly. Its unlikely that performances here will be counted next year,but still this tournament is an opportunity for the youngsters to showcase their talent and I hope all play with full intensity, Sharma says.
Punjab too are affected by the withdrawal syndrome with both Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh unavailable. Yuvraj is doing his rehab at NCA,while Harbhajan had to be left out as he was in the Test team. The final Test against Australia ended in three days,but by then we already had picked our squad, Sharma says.
The last-minute rescheduling that saw the tournament move out from Ranchi to Indore due to non-availability of flight tickets to MS Dhonis hometown hampered the teams plans and made things complicated for the cricketers and support staff. Bengal had to return from halfway to Ranchi and catch a flight to Indore. Delhi couldnt reach until Monday evening.