Notable results from last week
Hyderabad 463/4 defeat Sikkim 79 & 186 by an innings and 198 runs
Haryana 508/3 defeat Manipur 71 & 93 by an innings and 338 runs
Saurashtra 206 & 244 defeat Vidarbha 78 & 134 by 238 runs
Madhya Pradesh 171 & 251 defeat Delhi by 205 & 131
Mumbai 251 & 319 defeat Kerala 244 & 94 by 232 runs
Top performers of the Week
Himanshu Rana belongs to the same U-19 batch as Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw but has gone under the radar ever since. However, after lighting up the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he was one of the lynchpins of Haryana in their victorious campaign, he has continued his rich vein of form in red-ball cricket as well.
Rana scored a career-best 250 not out against Manipur, which allowed Haryana to ease past the northeastern state by an innings and 338 runs. With this massive victory, Haryana have now recorded two outright wins on the trot and are leading Group A on the points table.
Narayan Jagadeesan had had a timid start to the Ranji Trophy with scores of 25 & 9 in Tamil Nadu’s first game this season. Moreover, his lacklustre performance at the Vijay Hazare Trophy meant that questions had started being raised about his place in the Tamil Nadu side. But Jagadeesan once again showed that he belongs at the first-class level.
He scored 245* against Railways, which allowed the R Sai Kishore-led side to register a victory with a humungous margin of an innings and 129 runs.
Karnatak’s captain has been in some red-hot form in this Ranji Trophy. It’s been only three games and five innings so far, but Mayank Agarwal has already scored two centuries (109 against Gujarat and 114 against Goa), with the latter coming in Mysore and allowing Karnataka to take a first-innings lead.
Along with Devdutt Padikkal, he’s the fulcrum of Karnataka’s batting this season. Currently, they are placed in the third spot in Group C, and they need to continue the momentum to finish in the top two and make it to the quarter-finals.
The RCB man has been in prolific form for Goa this season. After being their premier batter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he has also continued to play that role in the red ball games, with two big scores of 197 and 143* in five innings. The latter came against Tamil Nadu at Mysore.
You might not have heard his name before, but this fast bowler from Madhya Pradesh who plays for Puducherry is making some serious waves in the Ranji Trophy this year.
After picking up a ten-wicket haul against Delhi in the first game, he went three better and picked up 13 wickets in the game against Uttarakhand in Dehradun. With 23 wickets in three games, including three fifers, Yadav is pushing hard to be amongst the highest wicket-takers this season.
Fast bowling all-rounders are gold dust in red-ball cricket, and Chirag Jani has been a gold mine for Saurashtra for quite some time now.
He picked up 9 for 65 in a low-scoring game (244 was the highest team score), which saw his team crush the opposition Vidarbha by 238 runs. With the fast bowling allrounder’s position always in demand for India’s overseas test tours, a big season can transform Jani’s fortune.
Some more notable performances
Shashwat Singh (Baroda) - 207
Shivalik Sharma (Baroda) - 188
Ravi Chauhan (Services) - 158
Tanmay Agarwal (Hyderabad) 137 vs Sikkim
Mohit Jangra (Mizoram) 6/70 & 5/62 vs Arunachal
Rajesh Mohanty (Odisha) - 5/64 & 5/61
Akash Kumar (Meghalaya) - 7/40 & 3/38
Youngsters in spotlight
Being a captain of your state team comes a lot of pressure. That pressure becomes even more when that state is Tamil Nadu, which hasn’t exactly taken the red ball domestic cricket by storm.
However, Sai Kishore seems untouched by it at the moment. He has taken to captaincy like fish to water, and has already picked 11 wickets in four innings for his team. If Tamil Nadu wish to reach the quarter-finals, Sai Kishore must keep performing.
Moreover, with the transition period of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja not very far away, he’ll also be on the selectors' radar as a potential replacement. Currently, he’s not in the pecking order, but a good season here, individually and for his team, can totally change that in a jiffy.
Hyderabad’s Ranji Team currently doesn't boast of big Indian international names. But they have Tilak Varma, and his bat has started doing the shenanigans we associate with him.
He recently scored 103* off just 111 against Sikkim, showing that his batting hasn’t changed with the formats. A big season with the bat for him can change his image as a primarily T20 batter.
Haryana have been one of the best domestic side this season, and Nishant Sindhu’s performances have much to do with it. The 19-year-old whom the Chennai Super Kings picked in the IPL auction also played in the last U-19 World Cup for India.
He has begun this Ranji season in absolute dominating fashion. He scored 119 against Manipur and helped his side register a humungous innings victory. Prior to this, he also picked up 5/83 with the ball against Saurashtra.
Disappointment of the week
If you are a Sanju Samson fan, life isn’t easy for you. His stroke-making beguiles you, but his lack of run frustrates. That pattern, which we all saw in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, has also continued in the Ranji Trophy. Samson could only score 38 & 15* against Mumbai at Thumba. Despite having played 60 first-class games, his average now reads just 38.83.
A first-ball duck followed an immensely scratchy 16 for the 35-year-old Ajinkya Rahane against Kerala. He also scored a zero against Andhra Pradesh after missing Mumbai’s first game against Bihar at Patna. In what was supposed to be his “I’ll prove my point” season, he has completely failed to arrive.
India international watch
It’s safe to say that Cheteshwar Pujara is wholeheartedly enjoying the Ranji season. When the Indian men play Tests at home, the pitches hardly allow batters of Pujara’s ilk to play their natural game. However, the pitches aren’t so volatile in the domestic season, and Pujara has fully used favourable conditions.
After scoring a 243* against Jharkhand, the 35-year-old Ranji veteran’s lowest score in the next four innings is 43, and after three games for every team, he is second on the list of leading run scorers in the season with 444 runs in just five innings.
Virat Kohli has had to take a break from the first two Tests for personal reasons. The BCCI is yet to announce a replacement. Don’t rule out a comeback for Pujara at all!
What made the news this week
All fog no cricket
North Indian winter mornings are foggy. We all know that. Hence, what made the BCCI schedule a big chunk of Ranji Trophy matches in the region seems inexplicable with the country's Central, Western and Southern parts being totally favourable for cricket.
This happens almost every Ranji season, and this time as well venues like Delhi, Meerut, Chandigarh, Jammu, Lahli, Kanpur, Mullanpur (Punjab) and others have seen games being curtailed for abandoned due to foggy conditions. In fact, in the last round of matches, not a single ball was bowled on the first day in matches of UP vs Bihar, Punjab vs Tripura, and Chandigarh vs Gujarat.
Vital points are lost for domestic teams due to this, frustrating the coaches and team management immensely.
Sai Kishore's Tamil Nadu bear the fruit of a seed that was sowed last year
Ranji Trophy: Gaikwad's knock helps Saurashtra qualify for QF; Railways chase down record target
Ranji Trophy: Padikkal slams 151 as Karnataka, TN play out a thriller
Ranji Trophy: Hitesh Walunj’s 14-wicket rout headlines bowler-dominated week
Ranji Trophy: Dube, Vihari roar back to form in record-breaking week
Bhuvi's 8-fer and Senapati's 277 headline week two of Ranji Trophy
Padikkal, Parag and Pujara light-up the first week of Ranji Trophy
Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022/23 - Team of the Tournament
Records tumble in Bengaluru as Jagadeesan reinforces white-ball credentials