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Padikkal, Parag and Pujara light-up the first week of Ranji Trophy

article_imageRANJI ROUND-UP
Last updated on 08 Jan 2024 | 11:43 AM
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Padikkal, Parag and Pujara light-up the first week of Ranji Trophy

A complete recap of the first week of Ranji Trophy 2023/24, which saw several great individual performances

Notable results from the first week

Puducherry 244 & 51/1 upset Delhi 148 & 145 by 9 wickets

Karnataka 514/8 & 52/3 beat Punjab 152 & 413 by 7 wickets 

Gujarat 236 & 312 beat Tamil Nadu 250 & 187 by 111 runs

Click here to view all the results from week one of the Ranji Trophy

Top Performers of the week

Cheteshwar Pujara - 243* vs Jharkhand

Left out of the Indian Test squad, Cheteshwar Pujara began the 2023/24 Ranji season in sensational fashion, smashing a stunning double-ton against Jharkhand. Walking in at 135/2, Pujara notched up an unbeaten 243 at a strike rate of nearly 70, racking up 30 boundaries. 

The 243* against Jharkhand was Pujara’s 17th double-ton of his first-class career; nobody in India has more. 

Devdutt Padikkal - 193 vs Punjab

Fresh off a mammoth Vijay Hazare Trophy and some India ‘A’ experience, Devdutt Padikkal, against Punjab, posted his highest ever first-class score — 193. And it came in rapid time, off just 216 balls. Padikkal smashed 24 fours and 4 sixes in his explosive knock. The 2023/24 Ranji season has started off on a much-needed bright note for the 23-year-old, who has struggled in red-ball cricket thus far, averaging just 36.

Riyan Parag - 155 vs Chhattisgarh

Riyan Parag is already a domestic white-ball superstar in the country, but week one of this season saw him bring his outrageous hitting ability to red-ball cricket. Batting at No.4, skipper Parag smashed an 87-ball 155 vs Chhattisgarh in the second innings, single-handedly helping Assam take a lead in the second innings. 

Parag’s stupendous knock saw him smash 11 fours and 12 sixes. The 22-year-old brought up his century off just 56 balls, making it the second-fastest ton in Ranji history. Unfortunately though, his efforts were not enough as Chhattisgarh eventually won by 10 wickets.

Kishan Lyngdoh - 268 vs Arunachal Pradesh

The Meghalaya captain walked away with the highest individual score of the season (268), helping his side to a crushing innings & 172 runs victory over Arunachal Pradesh. Kishan’s knock was a boundary-fest: a whopping 66% of his runs came in boundaries. 

V Koushik - 7/41 vs Punjab

Vasuki Koushik’s outrageous start to his red-ball career continued as the Karnataka pacer bagged 7/41 on the very first day of the 2023/24 season, against Punjab in Hubli. In what was an otherworldly display of seam bowling, Koushik bagged five Punjab wickets in the very first session. He dismissed six of Punjab’s top seven batters and eventually finished with 7/41 to his name.

M Mohammed - 5/44 & 85 vs Gujarat 

It was a dream first week for Tamil Nadu’s pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammed, who first registered a five-wicket haul on the first day, and then backed it up with an 85 (99) at No.9, with his side in trouble. TN were reeling at 118/9 at one point, still trailing Gujarat by 118 runs, but Mohammed’s onslaught helped Sai Kishore’s side take a 14-run first innings lead. Unfortunately, Mohammed’s performance went in vain as Gujarat registered a 111-run victory.

Gaurav Yadav - 7/49 & 3/49 vs Delhi

In his first ever FC match for Puducherry, former Madhya Pradesh pacer Gaurav Yadav produced the best bowling performance of week one, taking the first 10-wicket haul of the 23/24 season. Gaurav’s 10/98 helped Puducherry register a shock 9-wicket win over Delhi, who were bundled out for 148 & 145 in their two innings. 

Other notable showings from the first week

Ricky Bhui - 175 vs Bengal 

Rahul Singh Gahlaut - 214 vs Nagaland

Kumar Kartikeya - 8/132 off 75 overs (match figures) vs Uttarakhand (22 maidens bowled)

Ankit Bawne - 153 vs Manipur

Youngsters who shone

Tilak Varma -  100* vs Nagaland

Someone that’s already been fast-tracked into the India ‘A’ side, Tilak scored his second first-class ton against Nagaland this week. Walking in at 235/2 against a bruised Nagaland attack, the 21-year-old compiled an aggressive 100* (112) to deliver the knockout punch.

Rinku Singh - 92 vs Kerala 

Rinku '57.82 first-class average’ Singh further grew from strength to strength this week as he compiled a nerveless 92 under pressure against Kerala. Uttar Pradesh were in trouble at 124/5, but Rinku dug the side out of trouble and helped them cross the 300-run mark. His contribution proved to be goldust as U.P took a 59-run first innings lead and secured points thanks to the same. 

Disappointments of the week

Sarfaraz Khan: Mumbai registered a thumping innings victory vs Bihar, but Sarfaraz Khan, batting at No.4, was unable to shine as he got dismissed for 1 (2).  Sarfaraz is in the midst of a very rare bad patch in first-class cricket: across his last 9 innings, he’s amassed just 187 runs @ 20.77.

Mayank Agarwal: It was a forgettable week one for Mayank Agarwal, who registered a pair against Punjab in his first game of the season. Karnataka registered a memorable victory over a strong Punjab side, but Mayank endured a horror game. 

Washington Sundar: Sundar got two opportunities to bat up the order against Gujarat (#5 and #3) but failed twice, registering scores of 1 & 6. He also did not impress with the ball, registering match figures of 1/68. Concerningly enough, Sundar’s FC career has taken a nosedive since the last time he represented India in Test cricket. Since July 2021, Sundar averages 19.25 with the bat and has taken just 14 wickets in 17 innings at an average of 31.5.

Veteran watch 

> Pujara, as mentioned above, started his season off with a double-ton (243*) against Jharkhand.

> Ajinkya Rahane missed Mumbai’s clash against Bihar with a niggle.

> Wriddhiman Saha started his season off with a 97 against Goa.

> Umesh Yadav picked 3/73 & 2/47 against Services. 

> Ishant Sharma picked 1/43 vs Puducherry 

What made the news this week

 > Bihar’s Vaibhav Suryavasnhi, officially aged TWELVE (!!), became the youngest Indian player to take the field in a first-class game in 38 years against Mumbai. Suryavanshi, who represented Bihar in the Vinoo Mankad Trophy last year, also took part in the U19 Quadrangular series last year, representing India ‘B’ U19. It was a bittersweet debut for the 12-year-old, though, as he registered scores of 19 & 12 in a match which saw Bihar slump to an innings defeat.

> Controversy also ensued in the same encounter as reportedly two Bihar XIs — one named by the board and one named by suspended former secretary Amit Kumar — were at the ground. Eventually, however, it was the ‘official’ XI that took to the field against Mumbai.

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