(Runs 990 | Average 82.50 | 100s/50s 3/6)
After a couple of mediocre Ranji Trophy seasons, the right-hander from Karnataka returned back to his best and showed everyone why he is considered a beast in these Indian conditions. It was his ability to score those big hundreds that got him into the Indian Test set-up and that’s exactly what he did in this edition.
It all started with three consecutive fifties against Services, Puducherry and Goa before getting his first hundred against Chhattisgarh. Agarwal slammed 208 against Kerala but his best knock came against Saurashtra in the semi-final. The 32-year-old got 249 in the first innings where nine of the other 10 batters couldn’t even go past 20.
(Runs 783 | Average 87 | 100s/50s 5/1)
Dhruv Shorey (859 runs @ 95.44) and Abhimanyu Easwaran (798 runs @ 66.50) got more runs but weren’t as consistent as Chopra. For example, Shorey scored almost 50 percent of his runs in one match against Assam, while Easwaran started this season with scores of 170, 165 and 82* but couldn’t do much in the semi-final and final.
However, Chopra smashed a hundred in five out of seven games and was consistent throughout the tournament. 137 v Haryana, 71* and 109 v Bengal, 159 v Baroda, 138 v Odisha and 115* v Nagaland - the 30-year-old hit the most number of centuries in this competition. If needed, Chopra can also keep wickets.
(Runs 803 | Average 50.18 | 100s/50s 3/5)
Bengal might have failed to win the coveted trophy but their journey to the final was quite remarkable, thanks to some phenomenal individual performances. Having played only seven first-class games prior to this season, Gharami was still finding his feet at this level but with what he did this season, the 23-year-old has made that No. 3 spot very much his own.
The young right-hander, who was first spotted by Sourav Ganguly at the Under-23 level, got runs against Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and Baroda in the group-stage but his performance in the quarter-final and semi-final is what makes him a ‘tough cookie’. Gharami got 68 in the QF against Jharkhand before slamming 112 in the SF against the likes of Avesh Khan, Gaurav Yadav and Kumar Kartikeya.
(Runs 907 | Average 75.58 | 100s/50s 3/3)
The 34-year-old played a massive role in Saurashtra’s 2019-20 title-winning campaign and this tournament was no different. The left-hander emerged as the second-highest run-scorer and got runs in all three knockout encounters. Vasavada has always been someone who gets runs against quality sides: 127* v Maharashtra, 75 v Mumbai and 152* v Delhi.
His 77 in the second innings against Punjab in the QF played a key role in Saurashtra scripting a comeback after conceding a lead in the first essay. And, how can we not talk about that 202 in the SF against Karnataka’s quality bowling attack? His 232-run stand with Sheldon Jackson batted Karnataka out of the contest. He also top-scored for Saurashtra in the final, and also led them brilliantly in a few games in the absence of Jaydev Unadkat.
(Runs 556 | Average 92.66 | 100s/50s 3/1)
It’s a shame that Sarfaraz is yet to play Test cricket despite the numbers he has been producing for the last three editions. He could only manage five runs in the first game against Andhra but soon returned back to his usual best, scoring 126*, 75, 20, 162, 15*, 28*, 125 and 0 in the next eight innings. He missed Mumbai’s must-win game against Maharashtra due to sickness or else they could have possibly even made it through to the knockouts.
(Runs 684 | Average 68.40 | 100s/50s 2/5)
The wicketkeeper-batter is 37 but is still going strong, finishing the red-ball season with an average of close to 70 in 12 innings. Playing for Puducherry, Arun Karthik got starts in five of his first six innings but couldn’t do anything substantial. The 37-year-old, however, turned things around in the last four matches. He got two hundreds and four half-centuries in his last six innings and saved Puducherry from relegation.
(Runs 435 | Average 48.33 | Wickets 33 | Average 29.55 | Strike Rate 60.1)
He will get you runs, he will get you wickets, having a player like Shahbaz is a total luxury. What Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have been doing for India, Shahbaz has been doing the same for Bengal for years. He is the glue that will hold this team together.
Just look at what he did in crunch games - 81 v Jharkhand in the QF and then 69 in the final after Bengal were reduced to 65/6 in the first innings. The left-armer will also be a perfect support act for our two frontline spinners.
(Runs 209 | Average 26.12 | Wickets 46 | Average 23.89 | Strike Rate 42.3)
The left-arm spinner from Mumbai has only featured in 26 First-Class games but already gives you a vibe of a domestic stalwart. Mulani is as consistent as they come and was once again at his absolute best in the recently concluded tournament, finishing as the second-highest wicket-taker.
The 25-year-old, who is also a handy batter down the order, claimed two or more wickets in 11 out of 14 innings and didn’t go wicketless even once. He scalped back-to-back 10-wicket hauls against Hyderabad and Saurashtra.
(Wicket 50 | Average 19.26 | Strike Rate 41.9 | 5s/10s 6/2)
The leading wicket-taker of the 2022/23 Ranji Trophy, Saxena was one of the easy picks. You have got someone with six five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls, the offspinner once again delivered for Kerala and he did it in an extraordinary fashion. Don’t think we need to give you more reasons why he is part of our team.
(Wicket 26 | Average 13.88 | Strike Rate 26 | 5s/10s 2/0)
The left-arm seamer played only four games this season due to national commitments but that was enough for him to leave a mark. The 31-year-old started the competition with an eight-wicket haul against Delhi and got six more across two innings against Hyderabad.
Unadkat had to miss a few games as he was part of the India squad for the Australia series but was released to feature in the final. He got the big wickets of Easwaran and Manoj Tiwary in the first innings and then got six more in the second essay. He will also be the captain of our side.
(Wicket 41 | Average 20.90 | Strike Rate 40.7 | 5s/10s 3/1)
No pacer picked up more wickets than Akash Deep. The 26-year-old played all 10 games for Bengal and operated at an average of 20.9 and a strike rate of 40.7. The right-armer took five wickets in both innings against Haryana before dismantling Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh in the QF and SF respectively.
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