14 Royals to take centre stage The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy has traditionally taken place before the IPL season but now the 11th edition has been moved to November 8th – 1st December which slots in between the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophies. This provides domestic players with the perfect platform to showcase their talents right before this year’s IPL auction which is being held in Kolkata on December 19th. As many as 14 Rajasthan Royals boys will feature in this T20 tournament, and the best part is, almost all of them are in prime form. Four of the Royals boys will be leading their sides during the tournament. Let’s take a look at their recent form and T20 numbers. Mahipal Lomror: Rajasthan Runs: 620 Strike Rate: 121 Rajasthan may not have had the best year in domestic cricket so far, but that hasn’t dented Mahipal Lomror’s performances. His form looks good after scoring 3 fifty-plus scores in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Manan Vohra: Chandigarh Runs: 2137 Strike Rate: 128 Chandigarh is one of the new teams in India’s domestic circuit. Vohra was appointed as the captain for the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophies. Opening for his side, Manan scored a brisk hundred recently. In a four-day game a couple of months ago, he had scored a triple century. Manan has a knack of scoring big and Chandigarh will hope for a lot of that soon. Jaydev Unadkat: Saurashtra Wickets: 156 Economy Rate: 8 Jaydev Unadkat is no stranger to the T20 format. This is the first time he will be leading Saurashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. JD seems to have taken very well to captaincy. His bowling has not been affected at all, and he has been among the wickets regularly. Rahul Tripathi: Maharashtra Runs: 1293 Strike Rate: 128 If you’ve followed the IPL in the last few years, you know what Rahul Tripathi is capable of pulling off as an opener. The Maharashtra skipper hasn’t had a lot of cricket after the IPL, having played just 6 games for his state team since then. He will be keen to get in form at the earliest in the tournament. Sanju Samson: Kerala Runs: 3353 Strike Rate: 126 When Sanju Samson bats with grace, the world watches. He has 2 centuries to his name, both of which were scored in the IPL. Samson made waves with his double century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and his selection in India’s T20I squad. He will be joining the Kerala side after the Bangladesh T20I series and will be one of the key players for the team. Sudhesan Midhun: Kerala Wickets: 9 Economy Rate: 6.4 In his short T20 career so far, Midhun has promised quite a bit. He is not afraid to toss the ball to batsmen and allows the ball to grip and turn. This season will be big for him as he will look to make a mark for Kerala. In the one game he played during the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Midhun bowled exceptionally well with figures of 2/15 in 10 overs which included 3 maidens. We are waiting for more of the same from him. Shreyas Gopal: Karnataka Wickets: 61 Economy Rate: 7.2 Quick through the air, sharp googly and a smart mind – these are the attributes that set Shreyas Gopal apart from some of his counterparts. He was our leading spinner during the last IPL season and has been pretty lethal for Karnataka as well. We won’t be surprised if he features in the top 5 wicket-takers’ list for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Krishnappa Gowtham: Karnataka Runs: 454 Batting Strike Rate: 164 Wickets: 32 Economy Rate: 7.4 Krishnappa Gowtham has had a baller of a last few months in cricket. He has had a successful tour of West Indies with India A that included a hat-trick, he scored a belligerent century and took an 8-fer in one game in the KPL and has been a key contributor to Karnataka’s success in the Vijay Hazare Trophy too. There doesn’t seem to be anything KG can’t do on the field anymore. Watch out for this in-form allr-rounder. He can be the player to watch out for in the tournament. Varun Aaron: Jharkhand Wickets: 77 Economy Rate: 8.4 On his day, Aaron can rattle through any batting line-up. With the added ability of swing to go with his pace, Jharkhand have a weapon they would like to unleash in the tournament. The team’s been on a roll as well with the other players performing. Those in-swingers could send some stumps flying! Shashank Singh: Chhattisgarh Runs: 205 Strike Rate: 150 These are still early days for Shashank Singh in domestic cricket. He has moved from Mumbai to Chhattisgarh this year to receive more opportunities. And, how well has that worked for this all-rounder! The Vijay Hazare Trophy was proof of the range of strokes and the skills with the ball he possesses. Shashank can fit well into the finisher’s role for his team in this tournament. Dhawal Kulkarni: Mumbai Wickets: 141 Economy Rate: 7.9 Dhawal Kulkarni is approaching 150 wickets in T20 cricket. He is a veteran in the format and has experience in abundance for all sorts of situations. As a leader of Mumbai’s pace attack, DK will be a vital cog in the team’s wheel and can impart a lot of tips to the younger boys too. Riyan Parag: Assam Runs: 335 Strike Rate: 126 That strike rate is only going one way in the near future – up! Riyan was one of the young sensations during the IPL for Rajasthan Royals and for Assam in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. At just 17 (soon to turn 18), Riyan has immense power and can be the perfect finisher to an innings for Assam. With the ball, Riyan can unsettle batsmen with his variations. Stuart Binny: Nagaland Runs: 1441 Strike Rate: 127 Wickets: 62 Economy Rate: 7.6 After his move to Nagaland, Stuart Binny scored a magnificent 100 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has opened the bowling for the team as well. He has been among the runs and wickets, and his experience will only help Nagaland. Prashant Chopra: Himachal Pradesh Runs: 1094 Strike Rate: 113 In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Prashant Chopra consistently got starts for Himachal Pradesh. He converted some of them into fifties, and chipped In with the ball as well. He has picked up his T20 skill-set over the past few years and has some audacious shots in his armoury as well. With a top score of 99* in T20s, let’s hope he gets to the three-figure mark this time around. The 14 Rajasthan Royals boys are potential match-winners. The Syed Mushtaq Ali is the perfect tournament to prove your worth as a T20 player, and we can’t wait to watch our boys go out there and win games for any team they play for.