One of the most anticipated domestic T20 cricket tournaments in India, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy marks its return after a long nine-month wait when it kicks off on January 10. The 2021 edition is set to see some of the finest Indian talents of the shortest format taking the centre stage in a 38-team event which will be played across Bangalore, Kolkata, Vadodara, Indore, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu in the group-stage. The competition will then move to Ahmedabad for the knockout round.

Defending champions Karnataka, whose roster boasts of some real match-winners, will take the field against Jammu and Kashmir in the inaugural game. Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy provides the players a perfect stage to lay a foundation, and like every other year, there are a few who will be under the spotlight. Here we throw a beam on three of them:

Devdutt Padikkal - Karnataka

Young and adroit, top-order batsman Devdutt Padikkal was instrumental in Karnataka’s success in the 2019/20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, topping the run-scoring chart by quite a margin, accumulating 580 runs at an average of 64.44 and a strike rate of 175.75. Once again under the scanner, the 20-year-old is coming at the back of an exhilarating stint in the Indian T20 League and will once again look to leave a positive mark as the 2021 T20 World Cup looms. He will arguably be the one to keep a keen eye on.

Suryakumar Yadav - Mumbai

The captain of Mumbai team, Suryakumar Yadav was the third-highest run-scorer in the previous Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, scoring 392 runs in 11 matches at an average and strike rate of 56.00 and 168.96 respectively. Yadav’s stocks rose so significantly in the Indian T20 League 2020 that he missed out on his maiden national team call for the Australia T20I series only by a whisker. Another such performance in the upcoming tournament and the selectors will be forced to at least consider him for the T20I series against England, which begins shortly after the conclusion of the competition.

Ravi Bishnoi -  Rajasthan

Playing in his first-ever Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, 20-year-old Ravi Bishnoi is no stranger to big games, having performed exceptionally well in the 2020 Indian T20 League for Punjab, picking 12 wickets during the tournament. Bishnoi rose into the province after topping the wicket-taking tally with 17 scalps during the ICC Under 19 World Cup last year. It was after this performance that he got his maiden Indian T20 League contract and he went on to play all of Punjab’s 14 games in the competition. Now turning up for Rajasthan, Bishnoi will once again look to assert an authority to soar his reputation even further.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @devdpd07