Dinesh Karthik to lead the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) Best Team of the tournament.
The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021 is the first official domestic tournament to have been scheduled post the pandemic that hit India in March 2019. It is one of the most important T20 tournaments for emerging T20 talents that acts as a prelude to the biggest T20 tournaments in the World, the IPL.
Every year, the SMAT unearths a plethora of talent we have unheard before. Well, this year was no different as there were so many players, who gave their best in all the three categories; batting, bowling & All-rounders. With IPL 2021 Auction just around the corner, the performance for some of these players may help them get their maiden IPL contract.
The year 2021 saw 38 teams take part in the tournament, but it was Tamil Nadu and underdogs Baroda ending up in the final. With Tamil Nadu winning the SMAT 2021 Trophy on account of some brilliant team work from almost all the players, let’s look at the top 11 players who will form the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) Best Team of the Tournament.
As usual, we have removed any biases or perception while selecting the best performing 11. Our robust methodology gives precedence to ‘Performance Rating’ to select players in the playing 11. Given the plethora of talent and performance that was uncovered during the Tournament, selecting the final XI was a seriously tough job.
Also to note, teams have played very few group stage matches. Hence, preference was given to those players who have played at least the quarter-finals, unless we saw some really extraordinary performance in the group stage itself that we just couldn’t ignore in the final 11.
So, on that note, let’s look at the top 11 players who will form the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy team of the tournament.
#1: N Jagadeesan (Tamil Nadu)
Inns: 8 // Runs: 364 // Avg: 72.8 // SR: 141.1 || Rating: 8
The leading run-scorer of the tournament, N Jagadeesan was electric at the top for Tamil Nadu. He smashed a total of 364 runs from 8 innings at an average of 72.8 and a strike rate of 141.1. He managed to score 4 continuous fifties in the tournament; a feat no one else could achieve. He was the prime reason why Tamil Nadu were so consistent as they remained unbeaten throughout the tournament.
#2: Avi Barot (Saurashtra)
Inns: 5 // Runs: 283 // Avg: 56.6 // SR: 185 // Rating: 10
A tough choice to make between Baroda’s one-man army Kedar Devdhar and Saurasthra’s one-man army, Avi Barot. To be honest, both have performed exceptionally well, but in the end, it was the aggression and consistency of Barot vs consistency of Devdhar. While Devdhar finished the tournament as the second-highest run-scorer, his strike rate of 113.7 was too low for a T20 game. Hence, Barot, who scored 283 runs from 5 innings at a mesmerising strike rate of 185 gets an edge as the second opener.
#3: Prabsimaran Singh (Punjab)
Inns: 7 // Runs: 341 // Avg: 85.3 // SR: 142.1 // Rating: 8.9
The lone warrior for Punjab in the batting department, Prasimran Singh ended the tournament as the third-highest run-scorer. He smashed a total of 341 runs from just 7 innings at a stunning average of 85.3 and a strike rate of 142.1. This includes three 50+ scores and consistency of 71.4. His 89(52) while chasing 127 was the best knock from his bat.
#4: Riyan Parag (Assam)
Inns: 5 // Runs: 261 // Avg: 87 // SR: 141.8 // Wkts: 5 // Rating: 10
Another lone warrior from Assam, Riyan Parag scored runs consistently throughout the tournament for Assam, and that too against teams like Tamil Nadu, Hyderabad, Bengal, and Jharkhand. Overall, Riyan managed to score a total of 261 runs from just 5 innings at a fabulous average of 87. Aside from his superb batting where his lowest score was 24, he also managed to pick 5 wickets.
#5: Virat Singh (Jharkhand)
Inns: 5 // Runs: 250 // Avg: 62.5 // SR: 150.6 // Rating: 8.9
Virat Singh was a part of a line-up that comprised of Ishan Kishan and Saurabh Tiwari. Even with them in the squad, Virat Singh ended the tournament as the leading run-scorer for Jharkhand at 250 runs; that’s 108 runs more than second-best Ishan Kishan. His 250 runs came from just 5 innings at an average of 62.5 and a superb strike rate of 150.6. His best knock of the tournament was no doubt 103(53) vs Assam.
#6: Dinesh Karthik (Tamil Nadu) (C&WK)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 183 // Avg: 61 // SR: 157.8 // Rating: 7.4
The best finisher of the tournament, Dinesh Karthik held the Tamil Nadu innings during the backend of the innings with many short-burst knocks. His knocks of 46, 40*, 47*, 26* were all superb knocks given the situation of the game. Overall, Dinesh was the only best bet to play at 6. He is also wicket-keeper captain of the team. Aside from leading his team to a second title, which is quite an achievement, Karthik also had 7 catches and 1 stumping to his name.
#7: Rishi Dhawan (Himachal Pradesh)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 140 // Wkts: 9 // Rating: 7
Rishi Dhawan was the best all-rounder of the tournament with 140 runs and 9 wickets to his name. The captain of the Himachal squad, Dhawan helped Himachal Pradesh qualify for the Quarter-finals, which is a big thing in the tournament that has a total of 38 teams. He ended SMAT 2021 as the second-highest run-scorer and wicket-taker for Himachal Pradesh.
#8: Ashutosh Aman (Bihar)
Inns: 6 // Wkts: 16 // Avg: 7.6 // ER: 5.1 // Rating: 10
The leading wicket-taker of the tournament is a bowler who didn’t even play the semi-final and the final. The slow-left arm bowler from Bihar ended the tournament with a total of 16 wickets from 6 innings at a minimalistic average of 7.6 and an economy rate of just 5.1. Watch out for him in the IPL 2021 Auction as many teams might be interested to hire him.
#9: Lukman Meriwala (Baroda)
Inns: 8 // Wkts: 15 // Avg: 13.3 // ER: 6.5 // Rating: 8.4
The only player in the team, who was a part of SMAT 2019-20 as well as SMAT 2021. Lukman Meriwala has been a backbone of Baroda bowling department. The tall left-arm pacer from Baroda ended this season with a total of 15 wickets from 8 matches at an average of 13.3 and an economy rate of 6.5.
#10: Chetan Sakariya (Saurashtra)
Inns: 5 // Wkts: 12 // Avg: 8.2 // ER: 4.9 // Rating: 10
The Left-arm pacer from Saurashtra played only in the league stages, but created an unmatchable impact. He took a total of 12 wickets from 5 innings at an economy rate of 4.9 and consistency of 100%; both best in the tournament among top 10 wicket-takers. Courtesy his fabulous bowling and him being a let-armer, watch out for him in the IPL 2021 Auction. Quite possible, this scouting team of RCB or MI must be after him.
#11: Siddharth Kaul (Punjab)
Inns: 6 // Wkts: 14 // Avg: 11.1 // ER: 6.7 // Rating: 10
The fast and fiery pacer from Punjab, Siddharth Kaul’s performance just couldn’t be ignored. He was Punjab’s best bowler with 14 wickets from 6 innings at a superb average of 11.1 and an economy rate of 6.7. Kaul’s consistency stands at 83.3% and he had two 4-wicket hauls to his name; which is joint best.
A special mention to 12th Man, R Sai Kishore, who ended the tournament with an economy rate of 4.8 and a consistency of 100%. If not for his wickets, which is just 8, R Sai Kishore would have been a member of this squad.
So, that completes the best playing 11 or team of the tournament for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021. While these were best 11 of the lot, I would like to give a shout-out to some other star performers including Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, R Sai Kishore, Shivam Chauhan, Rahul Chahar, and others as we also look at the best alternate team for SMAT 2021.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021 Best Team of the Tournament:
N Jagadeesan, Avi Barot, Prabsimran Singh, Riyan Parag, Virat Singh, Dinesh Karthik (C&WK), Rishi Dhawan, Ashutosh Aman, Lukman Meriwala, Chetan Sakariya, and Siddharth Kaul. 12th Man: R Sai Kishore.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 Alternate Best 11 of the Tournament:
Kedar Devdhar (C&WK), Mohammed Azaharuddeen, Sheldon Jackson, G Rahul Singh, Shivam Chauhan, Jalaj Saxena, Lalit Yadav, R Sai Kishore, Ishan Porel, Avesh Khan, and Darshan Nalkande.
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Adesh Kothari is the founder of AK4Tsay1 Cricalytics.
Cricket to him is like what ‘Football is to Lionel Messi’, ‘Singing is to Lata Mangeshkar’, ‘Dancing is to Michael Jackson’, and what ‘Acting is to Clint Eastwood’.
Besides his effervescent love for Cricket, Adesh is an MBA by qualification.