There has been no domestic cricket in India since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BCCI remained hopeful during the first half of 2020 that things would get under control and the domestic season would be able to resume.
India was one of the countries that was hit the hardest by COVID-19 and the BCCI decided to suspend its entire domestic season much to the disappointment of the players and fans. The BCCI confirmed that domestic cricket would only resume in 2021.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
The BCCI is now looking forward to start 2021 with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. This is a domestic T20 championship that is conducted by the BCCI and sees teams from the Ranji Trophy taking part. The tournament format starts with a round robin games before moving to the knock out stage.
The BCCI has announced that the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will start on Jan 10 and will finish on Jan 31. The tournament will take place across six states and will most likely have a bio-bubble especially if the COVID-19 situation does not improve in the coming weeks.
Cricket fans will look forward to seeing their favorite teams compete in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. A number of fringe players for India including Sanju Samson, Varun Chakravarthy, Sandeep Saini and Shivam Dube are expected to take part. The tournament is also a great place for new players to make a mark and send a clear message to the selectors who have the T20 World Cup in mind.
Retired Players Will Return
Indian fans can also expect a number of retired players to make their return during this tournament. We focus on three players who are likely to play the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Yuvraj Singh: retired from professional cricket when he knew that he was no longer going to be picked in the national squad. The 39 year old is expected to put on his gloves again to represent Punjab. Puneet Bali who is the secretary of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) is reported to have made a personal request to Yuvraj and asked him to come out of retirement.
Yuvraj needs to get approval from the BCCI before he can play for Punjab. However, that appears to be a mere formality given his former captain Sourav Ganguly is the BCCI President. The dashing left-hander is currently practicing with the Punjab team at the IS Bindra Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Suresh Raina: is one of the most sought after T20 players in India. Raina caused a lot of controversy during the 2020 IPL when he flew to the UAE with the Chennai Super Kings and then suddenly decided to return to India due to personal reasons.
CSK ended up having a poor season as Raina’s absence was definitely felt. Raina is expected to be auctioned during the 2021 IPL auction as it is unlikely that he will play for CSK again. However, he will play for his home state of Uttar Pradesh and will look to get back into form as he hasn’t played competitive cricket in close to a year.
S Sreesanth: never retired from the game but was made an outcast due to his alleged match fixing role in the IPL. The BCCI banned Sreesanth from all forms of cricket and his 7 year ban came to an end in September 2020. Sreensath will look to represent his home state of Kerala and prove that he still has what it takes to be a premier fast bowler.
Sreesanth is now 37, an age when most fast bowlers have already retired. However, the 7 years of being out of the game might have given him a longer shelf life. We will have to wait and see how he performs and then decide if he still has it in him to play in the IPL and maybe even for India.