Vijay Hazare Trophy is done and dusted. We now move to India’s next domestic behemoth – Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The 142-match tournament begins on 8th November with the final scheduled to be played on 1st December, 18 days ahead of the IPL auction. Karnataka, the winner of Vijay Hazare Trophy, will be the defending champions. Here’s all the information you need about the T20 tournament.
38 teams shall compete for the trophy. All the teams that played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy will be present for this tournament as well. Chandigarh is the only fresh entrant other than the last year’s lineup. The matches shall be played at six venues: Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram, Surat, Mumbai and Chandigarh.
The same format as that of the 2018-19 edition will be in effect. 38 teams are divided into five groups – three of them will include eight teams and two groups will have seven participants. After the round-robin matches, the top two teams from each group will progress ahead. These ten teams will be further divided into two groups of five each. After another round of matches in the ‘Super League’, the top two teams shall secure spots in the semi-final.
The defending champions and the reigning Vijay Hazare Trophy winners Karnataka will be the outright favourites to claim the throne. They will be playing in Group A where they are likely to come out unbeaten. Vidarbha will be a top contender from the second group along with Tamil Nadu who reached the final of the ODD competition. Punjab is expected to dominate Group C. Bengal and Mumbai shall compete from the fourth group. Delhi and Gujarat will be the teams to watch out from Group E.
The star players
With India series occurring in parallel, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will not have the full array of star power. India’s Test specialist will be seen in action before they join the squad for Bangladesh Test matches. R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari shall turn out for Tamil Nadu and Andhra respectively. Mayank Agarwal will not feature in the tournament. Alternately, Washington Sundar and Manish Panday shall join their teams post-Bangladesh T20Is.
Baroda and Gujarat have been the most successful sides in this T20 tournament with two championships each. Gujarat also hold the record for highest team total with 233/3 against Kerala in 2013. Meanwhile, Tripura were all out for 30 which remains the lowest in the competition.
Karnataka have a great opportunity of extending their record winning streak of 14 T20 matches. They are currently level with Otago (New Zealand) and Kolkata Knight Riders (India). The all-time record belongs to Sialkot Stallions of Pakistan who won 25 T20s on the trot.