Other than being a precursor to the money spinner Indian Premier League (IPL) Season 7, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy holds little significance. It might be BCCI’s flag-ship event in the shortest format but it’s hard to look beyond the fact that most of the players seen in action during the zonal will miss next rounds.
At the best, it gives likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh, and a host of other domestic players, a chance to iron out their flaws and get some match practice ahead of the IPL in UAE.
“I believe the tournament holds a great value to the players even if we didn’t have IPL. We are geared up to do well. We believe the knockouts will give many youngsters a chance to play for the state once IPL bound players leave for UAE,” Delhi coach Sanjay Sharma said, who will lose as many as eight players in his squad bound for IPL.
Punjab coach Bhupinder Singh Sr, who will be los- ing as many as seven players to IPL, said he is not worried but his aim will be to qualify for the next stage.
“Everybody stands to lose some players once IPL begins. The next stage will be about the bench strength. IPL is one of the premier tournaments of the board and all the franchisees would like to spend a week or so with the players so as to sor tout the team dynamics. I have no qualms with that.
I see it as trying out fresh talent, who has been on the sidelines for the most part of the season,” Bhupinder said.
Delhi will take on Himachal Pradesh in the opening match, while Punjab are set to face Haryana. Delhi already have injury worries, with pacer Ashish Nehra set to miss first two three matches due to finger injury.
Young pacer Pawan Suyal has been drafted in as replacement.
Delhi has struggled this domestic season, after failing to make it to next stage in the Ranji Trophy, they were ousted in Vijay Hazare also. But Sharma believes the team has in it to end the season on a high.
“We have played good cricket throughout the season but somehow have failed to make it to the next rounds. But I think we have enough talent to end the season on a high note,” he said.
Punjab on the other hand have been on the cusp of making it to the final in Ranji Trophy only to falter at the last hurdle, while in Vijay Hazare they were ousted in quarterfinals.
But Bhupinder thinks that his young side will only get better with experience. “As these set of players mature and learn they will get better in handling pressure, something which augurs well for the state.
I would like this team to take it one match at a time. Win the first game and then carry the momentum to the next,” he said.