(Innings 6 | Runs 498 | Average 83 | 50s/100s 1/3)
The left-handed opener has lost two finals (IPL 2022 and Ranji Trophy 2021-22) in the last two months but his form with the bat has been phenomenal. The 20-year-old was dropped for the league phase of the Ranji Trophy, with Mumbai preferring Aakarshit Gomel over him. The latter struggled big time and Mumbai decided to bring in Jaiswal for the knockouts. The young man responded in a tremendous fashion, smashing three back-to-back centuries. He scored 103 in the second innings of the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand and followed it up with twin centuries in the semifinal against Uttar Pradesh. Jaiswal got 78 in the first innings of the final and missed out on an opportunity of slamming four consecutive hundreds, but did more than enough to prove his worth in red-ball cricket.
(Innings 6 | Runs 479 | Average 119.75 | 50s/100s 0/3)
Delhi failed to qualify for the knockouts but you could take nothing away from what Dhull achieved in his maiden first-class season. He might be just 19 but he is as real and sorted as they come, both on and off the field. After leading India to their fifth Under-19 World Cup title earlier this year, the stylish right-hander made his debut for the state team and announced his arrival in some style. Playing against Tamil Nadu, Dhull smacked a century in each innings, despite being asked to bat in an unfamiliar position. In the process, he became only the third batter to score a ton in each innings on his Ranji Trophy debut. He also became the third-youngest Indian to score twin centuries in a Ranji Trophy game. He couldn't do much against Jharkhand but ended the season with a stunning double century in the second innings against Chhattisgarh after Delhi were asked to follow-on.
(Innings 9 | Runs 608 | Average 76 | 50s/100s 1/4)
The right-hander has been around since 2013 but this was his breakout year. Shubham was Madhya Pradesh’s second-highest run-scorer and only Chetan Bist (Nagaland - Plate Group) scored more centuries than him this season. He started the season with scores of 92 and 103* against Gujarat and never looked back thereafter. Batting at No. 3, the 28-year-old constantly delivered for his team. His 104 against Punjab in the quarter-final helped his team emerge victorious and then came that century in the grand finale. Shubham scored 116 in the first inning and put on a partnership of 222 with Yash Dubey to bat Mumbai out of the game.
Rajat Patidar (c)
(Innings 9 | Runs 658 | Average 82.25 | 50s/100s 5/2)
The 29-year-old has been a man on a mission for the last few months. From becoming the first uncapped player to hammer an IPL century in a playoff game to demoralising Mumbai in the final, Patidar is having the time of his life at the moment. No other batter managed more 50-plus scores than Patidar in the Ranji Trophy. The only time he was dismissed for less than fifty was in the first innings of the semifinal against Bengal. However, he saved his best for the last, scoring 122 in the first innings of the finale. Every time he walked out to bat, Patidar looked calm and never allowed the bowlers to dictate terms. He ended the season as the second-highest run-getter, and will also be the captain of our side.
(Innings 9 | Runs 982 | Average 122.75 | 50s/100s 2/4)
There he is, the player of the tournament! Just look at those numbers and you would know how dominating Sarfaraz has been in red-ball cricket. Not just this year, the right-hander even amassed more than 900 runs in the 2019-20 edition and became only the third batter after Ajay Sharma and Wasim Jaffer to score 900-plus runs twice in a Ranji season. Coming into the quarterfinal, in the league stage before IPL 2022, he had scores of 275, 63, 48 and 165. In the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand, Sarfaraz hit 153* before crafting another century (134) in the final. Interestingly, this was the first time he failed to convert his century into a 150-plus score in first-class cricket. Such has been his dominance that Sarfaraz ended 324 runs ahead of the second-highest run-scorer and is likely to be part of the Indian squad for the two-match Test series against Bangladesh in November.
Akshay Wadkar (wk)
(Innings 4 | Runs 272 | Average 136 | 50s/100s 0/2)
Vidarbha’s very own crisis man! We don’t talk enough about Wadkar but the 27-year-old has been one of the best wicketkeeper-batters in the domestic circuit. In 34 first-class encounters, the right-hander averages 57.36 and is known for scoring tough runs. And, this year was no different. Vidarbha didn’t make it through to the knockouts but Wadkar managed to craft two centuries in four innings. He scored 102* against Uttar Pradesh and then managed 146* in the second match against Maharashtra, also putting up a partnership of 288 with Ganesh Satish. If there’s an early collapse, you could always bet on Wadkar to come good.
(Runs 482 | Average 60.25 | 50s/100s 3/1 | Wickets 20 | Average 22.10)
The spin-bowling allrounder was Bengal’s leading run-getter and joint-highest wicket-taker in this edition, and that tells you something. In fact, Shahbaz has been remarkable for Bengal in the last two seasons. In 2019-20, the left-armer scored 509 runs at an average of 36.35 and scalped 35 wickets at 16.80. This year, he was once again brilliant both with the bat and ball. Batting in the lower middle-order, Shahbaz had to script many rescue acts and he did that with great perfection almost every single time. In nine out of his 10 innings, Shahbaz managed to cross the 20-run mark. He also claimed at least one wicket in all but one innings. Bengal lost to Madhya Pradesh in the semifinal but Shahbaz made quite an impact, slamming his maiden first-class century and also taking eight wickets. He did more than what you would expect from an all-rounder.
(Runs 321 | Average 40.12 | 50s/100s 5/0 | Wickets 45 | Average 16.75)
The left-arm spinner from Mumbai ended the season as the leading wicket-taker, but that wasn’t it. The 25-year-old also managed five half-centuries and scored some vital runs down the order for his team. Mulani picked up at least two wickets in every innings apart from one in the semifinal against Uttar Pradesh, but he did score a fifty in each innings. Mulani scalped 22 wickets in the first two encounters of the season and eventually ended with six five-wicket hauls. Despite taking five wickets in the first innings of the final, he wasn’t at his best and conceded 173 runs in 63.2 overs. No other Mumbai bowler picked up more than 18 wickets and that tells you how crucial a role Mulani played in his team’s run to the final.
(Innings 9 | Wickets 20 | Average 24.75 | Strike rate 57.5)
The right-arm seamer from Bengal is your workhorse. Only Kumar Kartikeya (295.3), Mulani (259.2) and Shahbaz Nadeem (236) bowled more overs than Mukesh (191.5) and all of them are spinners. In fact, the next fast bowler on the list is Nagaland’s Rongsen Jonathan who bowled 158.3 overs in eight innings. He is one of those bowlers who could bowl long spells and allow others to attack from the other end. It’s not just the number of overs Mukesh bowled, the 28-year-old got crucial wickets for Bengal throughout the competition.
(Innings 10 | Wickets 23 | Average 18.91 | Strike rate 33.1)
Having made his debut in 2012, the 30-year-old finally had an impactful season, finishing as the highest wicket-taker amongst all the fast bowlers. In the absence of Avesh Khan, Gaurav led MP’s pace attack and played a massive role in their maiden Ranji Trophy title. Amongst bowlers who bowled at least 100 overs in the tournament, only Mulani and Baltej Singh had a better average than Gaurav. He commenced the season with a four-wicket haul against Gujarat and ended it by taking six wickets in the final, including the likes of Sarfaraz, Prithvi Shaw and Armaan Jaffer. Gaurav has struggled with injuries in the past but the right-arm seamer would be delighted with what he and his team achieved this season.
(Innings 4 | Wickets 15 | Average 11.60 | Strike rate 25.1)
Karnataka looked a different unit with Prasidh in the team. The tall paceman played only two matches but managed to take 15 wickets. The right-armer dismantled Jammu and Kashmir, taking 10 wickets in the entire game. Then in the game against Puducherry, Prasidh took five more wickets. He was almost unplayable in some of his spells and Karnataka missed his presence in the knockouts. They were involved in a low-scoring affair against Uttar Pradesh in the quarterfinal and if he was available, Karan Sharma and Co. would have found it difficult to chase down 213 in the final innings. In this team, Prasidh could be used in short, strong spells and could wreak havoc with his pace and bounce.
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