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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Melbourne pitch report : Ranji Finals and ... coaches

Following Ashes or Ranji or both ??

Good news is India has a new Ranji champion – Vidarbha – score card reads : Vidarbha 547 (Wadkar 133, Sarwate 79, Jaffer 78, Saini 5-135) and 32 for 1 (Jaffer 17*) beat Delhi 295 (Shorey 145, Himmat 66, Gurbani 6-59(including a hattrick)) and 280 (Rana 64, Shorey 62, Wakhare 4-95, Sarwate 3-30) by nine wickets.  The team is naturally elated.  Captain Faiz Fazal believes Vidarbha's first match of the season, which they won against Punjab by an innings and 117 runs, "set the tone" for their victorious Ranji Trophy campaign. Vidarbha lifted the prestigious domestic trophy for the first time in their 61st  attempt by beating Delhi comprehensively in Indore on the first day of 2018. Overall, Vidarbha registered an impressive seven wins in nine matches and only drew against Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh.

Down under there was some respite for England at Melbourne but not from the barrage of media.  Australian television broadcast footage  showed James Anderson digging his thumb nail into the ball during Australia's second innings. Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne said Anderson's actions "might get people talking".  However England coach Trevor Bayliss was to dismiss that quickly stating that he talked to the Umpires who found no problem.  Umpires Kumar Dharmasena of Srilanka  and Indian  S Ravi spoke with England captain Joe Root, but they were satisfied that nothing improper had taken place and the ball was not changed.

Amidst the Ashes, Australian coach Darren Lehmann says he will not seek a contract renewal when his current deal expires at the end of 2019. Lehmann outlined his plans to Fox Sports News 500 in a special Boxing Day Test one-on-one interview, declaring a jam-packed English summer in 18 months will be his last hurrah. England appear set to hand a Test debut to novice leg-spinner Mason Crane in Sydney. Coach Trevor Bayliss has given the strongest hint yet that the 20-year-old will win his maiden cap in the Ashes finale, with England able to 'look at some different people' as they try to break their duck in a series lost in Perth before Christmas.  In case you are wondering how a Coach could change the fortunes of any team, read on !!  Ricky Ponting has responded to reports that he is in line to coach the national side at the next World T20 tournament, saying he'd loved to be involved in the game again but that nothing has been decided with Cricket Australia.

Melbourne is the state capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria.  The metropolis is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip and expands into the hinterlands towards the Dandenongand Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. Founded by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen's Land in 1835, in what was then the colony of New South Wales, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837.

More than the city, we are aware of MCG, the ground where Boxing Test is played. The marquee match of Australia’s home summer schedule – the annual day Boxing Day Test in Melbourne – could be stripped from the MCG if there are repeats of this year’s sub-standard pitch that has been formally rated as ‘poor’ by the International Cricket Council. In the wake of the drawn fourth Magellan Ashes Test that attracted criticism from both competing teams, commentators and administrators, the ICC acted upon a report from their Chief Referee Ranjan Madugalle (who officiated at the match) to deliver the verdict which is unprecedented for an international venue in Australia.

Had the Test finished two days later, the nation’s most famous cricket ground would have been slapped with three demerit points as part of a new ‘name and shame’ system from the ICC that came into effect on Monday.  The real penalty for the MCG, and for CA by extension, is in reputational damage.  The Boxing Day Test is seen by many in the game as the pinnacle event on the cricket calendar, certainly in Australia, and more than 260,000 spectators watched last week's match between Australia and England.

Can never forget that Tied Test – India Vs Australia at Chepauk – Sep 18-22, 1986.

Soon after arriving in Nagpur and signing the contract to take over from Paras Mhambrey as Vidarbha's head coach at the start of the season, Chandrakant Pandit, who played that Tied test as a batsman, reportedly  asked the state association's vice-president Prashant Vaidya: "What happens to the prize money?" Vaidya thought he hadn't heard Pandit right and asked: "Kaunsa prize money [what prize money]?" Pandit was clear in his head and told Vaidya he was referring to the prize money the Ranji Trophy champions are entitled to. His planning of winning the Ranji Trophy had begun even before he had met the players.

After passage of months, Vidarbha has done what they could not do in 61 seasons, win their   maiden Ranji Trophy title. They appeared in Ranji Trophy for the first time in 1957-58, and played 260 matches before coming into this season. Only two teams have taken longer to win their first title - Gujarat (83 seasons) and Uttar Pradesh (72). Vidarbha are the 18th team to become Ranji Trophy champions.  The present decade has seen Rajasthan, Gujarat and Vidarbha getting their maiden title.  Last decade, Railways and Uttar Pradesh crowned glory.  The hat-trick bowler Rajneesh Gurbani took 27 - Wickets in the knockout stage this season (at an average of 14.11), which is 12 more than any other bowler. All other Vidarbha bowlers together picked up 32 wickets in this period at 30.96.

The man who coached Vidarbha, Chandrakant Pandit spent the last two seasons coaching Mumbai, the 41-time champions. He was replaced by Sameer Dighe for the want of "fresh faces and fresh outlook" after the side finished runners-up last season.  For the opponent, the losing finalists, Delhi, the coach was Bhaskar Pillai who was once to play for India against New Zealand at Jammu, the match was abandoned and he never got to play another game.  KP Bhaskar was a prolific run-scorer for a strong Delhi side during the 80s but was never selected for India, despite remaining on the periphery for years. He was a standby for India's tour of Sri Lanka in 1985

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

2nd Jan 2018.

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