Cricket can be touted as a batsman’s game but with the advent of T20 cricket we realised how important a bowler’s role is in restricting runs and picking up crucial wickets. This is why you will see IPL franchises splurging crores of rupees every year to get the right pace-spin combination in their line-up. The recently-concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) threw up a lot of bowlers who could add value to any team’s line-up. Here is a list of Top 5 pacers who will be vying for a bid this IPL auction, slated to be held on Feb 18 in Chennai.

Lukman Meriwala: The Baroda speedster has had the best bowling figures this season at SMAT. He picked up his T20 career-best figures of 5/8 against Chhattisgarh and produced an impressive spell of 3/28 against Punjab in the semi-finals to take his team to final. The left-arm pacer has a staggering average of 13.26 and a strike rate of 12.2. With 15 wickets from 8 matches, Meriwala is likely to be one of the hot domestic picks this year.

Chetan Sakariya: The left-hand medium fast bowler from Saurashtra has had an outstanding run with the ball. The 22-year-old not only has a stunning average (8.16) but also boasts a healthy economy rate of 4.9 RPO in the tournament. In 5 matches, he picked up 12 wickets, which included his career-best figures of 5/11 that came against Vidarbha. He, like Meriwal, in all likelihood will set the bar high at the auction table.

Atit Sheth: The 25-year-old right-arm medium pacer from Baroda shone throughout the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21. He picked up wickets in 7 out of the 8 matches he played to end up with a tally of 11 wickets, at an impressive average of 18.63. His best performance with the ball (4-17) this season came against Maharashtra. Atit is also a great asset with the bat and has a First Class century to his name too.

VG Arora: Vaibhav Arora from Himachal Pradesh made his Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy debut this year and made his mark in his first season itself with 10 wickets in 6 matches. With an average of 16.8, the right-arm pacer even went on to pick a maiden over against eventual champions Tamil Nadu. Viabhav, who ended Ranji Trophy season with an 8-for against Uttar Pradesh, had his best performance against Gujarat where he returned a commendable 3-16.

Aniket Choudhary: The experienced left-arm pacer from Rajasthan showed immense consistency, picking up wickets in every match this season at SMAT. Even though he didn’t have outstanding figures in terms of a spell, his consistency showed that he could be a player for the long haul. In 7 matches, the 31-year-old grabbed 10 wickets at an average of 18.4 and economy rate of 6.65 RPO.