Vijay Shankar, the captain as we look at the best playing 11 of the tournament for the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
It was only in Feb 2021 when the previous edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 was played. Although it was the postponed 2020 edition, the actual SMAT 2021 was only recently completed as the 2021-22 edition. It has been a year of yellow as Tamil Nadu won not only the 2021 edition but also the 2021-22 edition.
As has been the case every year, the SMAT brought out some unique superstars displaying unique performances. The format is such that consistency has the least priority. It is extremely difficult to maintain consistency year-on-year, and that is the reason we see unique performers every year.
While we saw unique performances from players, another unique thing happened while selecting the team of the tournament. Surprisingly, the best playing 11 of the tournament has only one player from the finalists. This is a shocker as you expect the best performers to have a good number of players from both the finalists.
To be honest, this can happen only in one scenario. The team as a whole saw equal performances from all the players such that there was hardly any standout performer. This is exactly what happened with players from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. There was hardly any exceptional performer, and the team had unique match winners most of the time.
On that note, let’s look at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021-22 Best Playing 11 of the Tournament. As usual, leaving out any biases and perceptions, we have selected the team of the tournament basis the performance rating. The team is also selected looking at the combination of at least 5 batters, minimum 1 all-rounder, minimum 1 spinner, and minimum 3 pacers.
#1: Tanmay Agarwal (Hyderabad)
Inns: 7 // Runs: 334 // Avg: 55.7 // SR: 148.4 // Rating: 10
The leading run-scorer of the tournament, Tanmay Agarwal is the first opener of the squad. What a fabulous year this has been for Tanmay. He smashed the joint-most 50s in the tournament. He also managed to scored 47 boundaries; the most by any player in the tournament. Overall, Tanmay scored 334 runs from 7 innings at an average of 55.7 and strike rate of 148.4 including the highest score of 97.
#2: Ashwin Hebbar (Andhra)
Inns: 5 // Runs: 279 // Avg: 93 // SR: 133.5 // Rating: 10
Played for only 5 matches, but the impressive opener from Andhra made a mark being the fourth-highest run-getter of the tournament. It was tough to decide between Ashwin, Rahane, Ruturaj, and Manan Vohra. But a fabulous average of 93 and a century to his name, Ashwin stood out as the opener. He also managed a consistency of 80%; the best among all batters.
#3: Sheldon Jackson (WK) (Saurashtra)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 271 // Avg: 67.8 // SR: 141.9 // Rating: 10
Year-on-year Sheldon Jackson keeps on performing well, but such is his destiny that every time the selectors ignore him. Not that they should select Jackson in the playing 11, but at least they can groom him in India A or something. Nevertheless, Sheldon Jackson was Saurashtra’s best player with 271 runs to his name from 6 innings. All this at an average of 67.8 with four continuous 50+ scores.
#4: Vijay Shankar (C) (Tamil Nadu)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 199 // Avg: 66.3 // SR: 130.9 // Rating: 7.2
The only player from the finalists, and also the captain of the team. Vijay Shankar wasn’t the most belligerent player of the lot, but it was his ability to finish is what made him unique. Shankar managed to score 199 runs from 6 innings, but at an average of 66.3 and strike rate of 130.9. He remained not out thrice while helping his team to a win.
#5: Deepak Hooda (Rajasthan)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 224 // Avg: 73.5 // SR: 168 // Rating: 10
Another year, another stellar performance from the free-flowing Deepak Hooda. It pains me to see such a talented player dominating the SMAT mercilessly, but failing to make any impact in IPL and senior trophies. The second-highest scorer of the tournament managed 294 runs from just 6 innings at a fabulous average of 73.5 and a fantastic strike rate of 168; the highest among the top 10 run-getters.
#6: Jitesh Sharma (Vidarbha)
Inns: 7 // Runs: 214 // Avg: 53.5 // SR: 235.2 // Rating: 8.5
Batting at number 6, there was no better batter than Jitesh Sharma. Not only did Jitesh scored over 200 runs from 7 innings, but he also scored them at a mind-boggling strike rate of 235. In most of the knocks Jitesh played, he broke the momentum to shift the game completely in Vidarbha’s favor. He also hit 18 sixes; the most in the tournament. Overall, Jitesh may not be the most known player, but this performance is only going to help create help surrounding him.
#7: Rishi Dhawan (Himachal Pradesh)
Inns: 6 // Runs: 117 // Wkts: 14 // Rating: 10
Just like Sheldon Jackson, Rishi Dhawan has been a player who always performs in the domestic circuit. Rishabh carried Himachal single-handedly. Not only did he finish as the third-highest wicket-taker, but he also managed to score over 100 runs. A perfect candidate for number 7 as there was hardly any competition. Hopefully, this performance gives rise to his popularity, and he is able to get an IPL contract.
#8: Jaydev Unadkat (Saurashtra)
Inns: 6 // Wkts: 13 // Avg: 11.8 // ER: 6.4 // Rating: 10
Talk about Domestic cricket, and one name that is synonymous with performance is Jaydev Unadkat. The current Saurashtra captain performs in all forms of cricket in the Domestic circuit. The SMAT 2021-22 was no different. He managed to take 13 wickets from 6 innings at a perfect consistency of 100%. In addition, he also managed to score 77 runs with a stunning 58 against Hyderabad.
#9: Akshay Karnewar (Vidarbha)
Inns: 8 // Wkts: 13 // Avg: 10.7 // ER: 4.6 // Rating: 9.9
The ambidextrous spinner was the best performing spinner of the competition. His spell of 4-4-0-2 is a once-in-a-lifetime performance. It is difficult for any bowler to bowl one maiden in a single T20, but Akshay bowled all four. Overall, Akshay took a total of 13 wickets from 8 innings at an economy rate of 4.6; the best among the top 10 wicket-takers.
#10: Chama Milind (Hyderabad)
Inns: 7 // Wkts: 18 // Avg: 11.6 // ER: 8.4 // Rating: 10
The leading wicket-taker of the tournament, the Hyderabad-born left-arm pacer, Chama Milind had a year to remember. He ended the tournament with a total of 18 wickets from just 7 innings. He took two five-wicket hauls; the most by any bowler in the tournament. Left-arm pacers are rare in India, and if Chama Milind can perform for another season, he has a bright future.
#11: Darshan Nalkande (Vidarbha)
Inns: 8 // Wkts: 13 // Avg: 11.8 // ER: 5.9 // Rating: 8.8
After a few years of consistent performances, the Vidarbha pacer, Darshan Nalkande finally got a chance to feature in the team of the tournament. Darshan alongside Akshay was instrumental in Vidadbha’s successful campaign. Overall, he managed to take 13 wickets from 8 innings at an average of 11.8 and an economy rate of 5.9. In addition, Darshan’s 4 balls 4 wickets in the semis, remains the most interesting part of the series.
So, that completes the best playing 11 of the tournament for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021-22.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021-22: Best Playing 11 of the Tournament:
Tanmay Agarwal, Ashwin Hebbar, Sheldon Jackson (WK), Vijay Shankar (C), Deepak Hooda, Jitesh Sharma, Rishi Dhawan, Jaydev Unadkat, Akshay Karnewar, Chama Milind & Darshan Nalkande.
Thanks for reading! What’s your best playing 11 for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021-22? Please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.