India will witness its first major cricket tournament in the country since the Covid-19 disruption when the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy begins the much-delayed domestic season from Sunday, presenting a platform for the hopefuls to impress before the Indian Premier League auctions.
The presence of seasoned campaigners such as Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Ishant Sharma will add sheen to the tournament but one of the biggest talking points in the lead-up has been S Sreesanth’s comeback to top-flight cricket after serving a ban for his involvement in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal.
Sreesanth, 37, will turn out for Kerala in the national T20 championship from January 10-31. But the focus, mostly, will be on domestic uncapped players with the IPL auctions scheduled in February.
The tournament also assumes significance as it is an opportunity for the new senior selection committee to draw up a wider pool of players for the T20 World Cup, which will be played in India later this year.
No cricketing activity had happened in India since mid-March last year and after weeks of planning, the BCCI decided to conduct the tournament at six different venues with as many bio bubbles.
The teams have been divided into six groups – five Elite and one Plate and the league stage matches will be played at Mumbai, Vadodara, Indore, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru with the knockouts scheduled in Ahmedabad.
While defending champions Karnataka will be looking to retain the title, they will face stiff competition from others.