The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) is widely regarded as one of the premier domestic T20 cricket championships after the Indian Premier League or IPL. Just like IPL, this tournament also follows the same round-robin format, with 38 teams in the fray.
In terms of the number of matches and teams, you can say SMAT is the biggest domestic T20 tournament in India. Ever since its inception in 2006, the tournament has continued to gain more and more prominence with each passing year. It is also called the Inter-State T20 Championship. The tournament, already slated to start on October 16th, is set to take the fans by storm in the next 22 days, with several nail-biting finishes and heart-stopping moments!
Unlike IPL, there won’t be just one or two matches per day; instead, there will be actually more than a dozen matches to be played per day during the tournament schedule. Last year, Rahane successfully led Mumbai to win SMAT 2022, beating Himachal in the final with three wickets in hand.
The Origin of SMAT: A SneakPeak Into History
SMAT is named after the legendary Indian cricketer, Syed Mushtaq Ali, who represented India in 11 test matches between 1934-1952. Despite his ability to hit strokes all across the ground thanks to his elegant batting style, he couldn’t emulate his First-class success in international matches.
He was the first-ever Indian cricketer to score a ton abroad, courtesy of his fantastic knock of 112 at Old Trafford in England in 1936. However, his success at international matches was short-lived, but he continued to score heavily in first-class matches, with 30 tons and 63 half-centuries to his credit. Syed Mushtaq also showed his artistry with his slow-left-arm orthodox bowling, claiming over 160 wickets at an impressive bowling average of 29 and six five-fors in his kitty. In short, Syed Mushtaq Ali was a pure delight to fans and spectators in those days.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Winners over the Years (2006-Present)
Most Winners of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
|Number of titles
Tamil Nadu: The Serial Winner of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
Tamil Nadu was the first winner of SMAT, owing to the excellent leadership of Dinesh Karthik from the front in the tournament’s inaugural edition during the 2006-2007 season. Tamil Nadu (TN) finished first in the point table, winning all of the five group games.
Then, TN moved to Super League B, and again, they finished at the top to meet their neighbor Karnataka for the SMAT 2006 Grand finale. In the final, TN made a mockery of Karnataka’s batting and bowling attack, easily chasing down 135 to win the trophy. Tamil Nadu won the trophy again in 2021 and 2022, once more under the captaincy of Dinesh Karthik.
With a total of three SMAT trophies under their belt, Tamil Nadu is certainly a team to reckon with. They are the only team to win SMAT consecutively in two successive years. No team has ever achieved this feat yet.
Baroda and Gujarat have each won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy twice. Baroda won the title in 2011-12 and 2013-14, while Gujarat won it in 2012-13 and 2014-15. Both Baroda and Gujarat are very strong teams in T20 cricket, with explosive batting lineups and bowling attacks that include both spinners and pacers.
Karnataka has also won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy twice, in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Karnataka is a very consistent team in T20 cricket, with a well-balanced batting lineup and a bowling attack that includes both spinners and pacers.
Other Teams to win SMAT
Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, East Zone, and Delhi have each won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy once. Bengal won the title in 2010-11, Uttar Pradesh won it in 2015-16, East Zone won it in 2016-17, and Delhi won it in 2017-18. All four of these teams have the potential to challenge for the title in future editions of the tournament.
Teams to Beat in SMAT
The teams to beat in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy are Tamil Nadu, Baroda, Gujarat, and Karnataka. These four teams have all won the tournament in the past, and they all have very strong teams.
Tamil Nadu has a well-balanced batting lineup that includes Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, and Shahrukh Khan. They also have a bowling attack that includes both spinners and pacers, led by R Ashwin.
Baroda has an explosive batting lineup that includes Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, and Deepak Hooda. They also have a bowling attack that includes both spinners and pacers, led by Irfan Pathan.
Gujarat has a bowling attack that is one of the best in the tournament, led by Rashid Khan, Axar Patel, and Jaydev Unadkat. They also have a batting lineup that includes Wriddhiman Saha, Shubman Gill, and Hardik Pandya.
Karnataka has a well-balanced batting lineup that includes Manish Pandey, Devdutt Padikkal, and KL Rahul. They also have a bowling attack that includes both spinners and pacers, led by Yuzvendra Chahal.
Outlook for the Future
The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is a very competitive tournament, and any team can win it on their day. However, the teams to beat are Tamil Nadu, Baroda, Gujarat, and Karnataka. These four teams have all won the tournament in the past, and they all have very strong teams.
Other teams that could challenge for the title in future editions of the tournament include Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, East Zone, and Delhi. These four teams all have the potential to win the tournament, but they will need to be at their best to overcome the big four.
Top Individual Score in SMAT
Meghalaya batsman Puneet Bisht holds the record for the highest individual score in SMAT. He achieved the feat when he scored a magnificent 155 against Mizoram in Chennai during the SMAT 2021-22 season.
The right-hand batsman from KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) scored a blistering 147 against Sikkim while playing for Mumbai at SMAT 2019-20 in Indore.
Kerala’s explosive batsman scored a 54-ball 137* against Mumbai at SMAT 2021, making his entry into the list of SMAT’s highest individual scorers of all time.
Interestingly, his namesake is former Indian skipper and India’s middle-order mainstay Mohammad Azharuddin, whom the 28-year-old admires as his idol.
Top 4 Highest Team Total at SMAT
|Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Lowest Team Total at SMAT
Image source: ESPN CricInfo
Tripura unfortunately is on the list of teams with the lowest team score at SMAT (all seasons combined). The northeastern state could score just 30 runs against Jharkhand in SMAT 2009. Until now, it continues to be the lowest score by any team at SMAT (all editions).
The battle has just begun. SMAT is not just a domestic tournament; it’s a pure emotion. You’ll get to cherish the pure domestic talent of India, the batting arsenal, and bowling artistry minus the glamour part that we witness at IPL matches. No doubt, each tournament has its own elegance, excitement, and attraction. But don’t forget SMAT is a much bigger tournament than IPL, considering the huge number of teams involved in it.
There won’t be any foreign players, which makes the tournament even much more balanced. The winning mantra at SMAT is clear: either perform or perish. There is no other alternative. This fiercely competitive trophy is not for the faint-hearted or teams who rely on their past glory or one-off magnificent performances—be consistent, ruthless, and, of course, better than the best to win or retain the trophy!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who is the current Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Champion?
Which team won SMAT the maximum number of times?
Ans: Tamil Nadu won SMAT thrice, followed by Baroda and Karnataka, winning the coveted tournament twice each.
Who captained and won SMAT the maximum number of times?
Ans: Dinesh Karthik (TN) — 3 times & Manish Pandey (Karnataka) — 2 Times.