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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mayhem at Jaipur - the arrival of rookie Deepak Lokandersingh Chahar

77 years after its inauguration, it was mayhem at Jaipur. The name of  Deepak Lokandersingh Chahar is one everybody’s lips.    This 18 year old has created waves not mere ripples.  In his debut Ranji match at Sawai Man singh,  he walked into the record books and enabled a humiliating place for Hyderabad also.   This boy’s is from Agra, conventionally no cricketer has come from there.  He reportedly started playing during his father’s Jaipur posting in Air Force. 
Whether he will ever grow up to use the cherry for the Nation would be a long way and uncertain answer – but this performance would do him a world of good – if this is only a beginning, then things augur well him and for the Nation. 

In someways, it also goes with the mindset – T20 all the time – Hyderabad did not complete 16 overs even – why was this hurry ?  To understand things in their full perspective. Ranji Trophy is a premier domestic tournament involving different State and some city sides.  The tourney is named after the legendary Ranjit Singh (Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji – Jam Sahim of Nawanagar).  Ranjit played in England and barely here.  The trophy was donated by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.  The competition was launched as the cricket championship of India way back in 1934, following a meeting  of Board of Control for Cricket.

The first tournament was won by Bombay who have held awesome control over the title, having won 39 times including 15 back to  back wins from 1958-59 to 1972-73.   For long it was the First innings lead that was the decider and many tall scores were recorded by teams batting first.    In 2005-06-, Uttar Pradesh lifted the trophy, and in 2007-08, it was Delhi; during 2006-07, 2008-09 & 2009-10, it was all familiar tale of Mumbai winning the title. 

Mostly the States are represented – Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan etc., however there are teams such Mumbai, Hyderabad, Calcutta also, then there is also Railways and Services.  Till 2003, there were five Zones and the initial matches were on league within the zone.  The top two teams used to qualify and then was the national knock-out competition.  Scoring a Ranji century was a great honour and a five wicket haul would do any bowler proud as most matches were played on lifeless tracks. 

I once travelled with a famous left hander who played for Tamilnadu with distinction in the late 70s.  He told that me those days in obscure venues, even decent food would not be served; the match fees would cover only their board and lodging and it was difficult getting leave sanctioned by their offices (this man was employed by a bank).  Those were the days when Ranji players would get good employment in banks and other PSUs but not much of money at all.  The game was played hard and the grind was borne out of passion than any money – things have changed a lot now a days. 

From 2006-o7 onwards Super league and plate league came into vogue.   The finalists from Plate league advance to Super league next year whilst the lowest of the Super league get relegated.  Again that was changed subsequently.    Now at the league stage, there is point system of 5 for outright win, Bonus point for innings win, 3 for 1st innings lead and so on. 

Though not to be distorted out of proportion,  for long time the record for most career runs in Ranji was held by Amarjit Kaypee (7623), a handsome player who could never break to the Indian Team.  His record stands broken by Amol Mazumdar (7929) who also never won an Indian Test cap.

The highest individual score is that of BB Nimbalkar (443 no) for Maharashtra against Kathiawar way back in 1948-49.  VVS Laxman is amongst the top 5 having scored 353.

Again a quality left arm spin bowler who took  637 ranji wickets – Rajinder  Goel could never represent the country, perhaps overshadowed by the mighty Bishen Bedi.  Goel played in an unofficial test against Ceylon.  There were others like Padmakar Shivalkar, Rajinder Singh Hans and to some extent Dilip Doshi who all lived in the shadows despite performing exemplarily well.  Srinivasa  Venkatraghavan had 530 wickets in Ranji.  Pradeep Sunderam of Rajasthan and Premangsu Chetterjee of Bengal have taken all the ten wickets in a single innings. 

Ironically, Hyderabad holds the record for highest runs in an innings – 044/6 amassed against Andhra in 1993/94.  and  at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur neither Ravi Teja or Kanitkar who asked them to bat would have dreamt of this situation.  Akash Chopra who writes so descriptively and analytically has confessed that the surrender was shocking.  In his own words, ‘when they were three down, I remember a team-mate in the slips told me we might need to bat by around tea. I told him it was too early to say that. Ranji Trophy has taught me otherwise on many occasions.’

Real words of wisdom arising out of experience.  Many times after the juice is lost, big partnerships have progressed taking the match totally away. This land is known for pitches where batsmen thrive making runs in buckets; many a times blade of bat seemingly become broader and broader as bowlers – spinner or pacer sweat it out. 

The wickets falling in such a manner, even if some rash shots had been played is rather surprising.  Not to take the credit away from the debutant Deepak Chahar, who had bowled exceptionally good swing bowling, this is an aberration in modern day cricket.  This right hander’s performance is admirable but will have to be sustained against other opponents elsewhere also to become a prodigy at a larger level.  Chahar had three bowled, three caught at the wicket, one lbw and another caught. Indian tracks have not exactly been bowler friendly green tops, at times there have been some bad wickets – this one was not as demonstrated by a good innings by Akash Chopra.   On record, on the same wicket, Rajasthan were 220 for 2 in 72 overs with Kanitkar remaining unbeaten with a century.

Pankaj singh bowled 8 overs conceded 11 and took 2 but for once looked an ordinary performance as at the other end was Chahar who had figures of  7.3 – 2 - 10 – 8. 

Even this brilliant performance is not record shattering.  Maharashtra’s Vasant Ranjane took 9 for 56 on his debut in 1956-57 but Saurashtra could muster 83 at Khadakvasala.  Here none of the Hyderabad batsmen could get to double figures. 

Does this mark the arrival of a good swing bowler for the Nation ??

Regards – Sampathkumar S.

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