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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ranji Trophy; Mumbai 44th time; 6th day of the game.....

The game of Cricket is a great entertainer and many of us follow it so closely… yet there could be simple Qs and not so correct Answers…

Q :  What is Ranji Trophy ? Which teams play it…
A :   Ranji Trophy is the premier first class tournament in India. It is played between States and these are 5 day matches.  It is named after Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji (Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, also known as "Ranji").

Sorry…… the Answer contains too many factual inaccuracies.  In Ranji most of the participants are States … there are some regions within a State – Vidarbha & Saurashtra; some cities – Mumbai, Baroda and Hyderabad; then there is Delhi which played even when it was a UT and there are two other teams – Railways and Services !! ~ and matches do not necessarily end in 5 days !!!!!!!!!!!!!

In Ranji, Mumbai beat Services and are now into finals;  Wankhede will now host Saurashtra in the finals.  Ranji and Bombay are synonymous as this is their 44th tilt at the title.  You may not recognize a single face in this photo – this is the victorious Saurashtra team, which is into finals beating Punjab. 
photo courtesy :

The team consisted of SH Kotak, SD Jogiyani+, RR Dave, JN Shah*, SP Jackson, AN Vasavada, KR Makvana, VJ Joshi, SK Trivedi  and the only player who has India cap ~ Jayadev Dipakbhai Unadkat…………. a promising left hand pacer, who had a forgettable Test debut at Centurion.

Tamil Nadu is far away ~ their best chances came last year [in 2012] when they had lot of things in their favour – it had a mature leader; many star performers, Mukund, Vijay, Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, Balaji have all played for the Nation and they were playing at their home turf against an opponents where the notable names were Akash Chopra and Kanitkar – an easy prey of an opposition one thought and a golden opportunity to repeat what was achieved way back in 1987-88 by S. Vasudevan.  And the prize money for the Ranji Elite winner  a whopping 2 crore.

There is the golden rule ~ for ages, it is becoming an unwritten rule that Toss is the most vital.  You win the toss, bat first without hesitation, amass runs mostly by staying put, wear down the opponent and mostly win by First innings lead.  At Chepauk, the  whole of the first day, TN could not dislodge a single batsman as Akash Chopra and little known Vineet Saxena grounded to dust – the second day was marginally better – two wickets fell as Rajasthan moved ahead at snail’s pace.  Vineet Saxena remained unconquered for the second successive day, he completed his double ton.   People started criticizing the approach of Rajasthan telling that their batting lacked stroke play and positivity and that they were hell bent upon simple staying on an unthreatening dead pitch.  It was only patience as only 15 runs were scored in the first hour.  Eventually they were all out for 621. On the same day, when Rajasthan  ended up making massive total, TN lost 3 wickets – those 3 who had played for India in recent past and eventually gained a massive 326 run first innings lead.  Hrishikesh Kanitkar did not enforce the follow on and the last day's play is only a formality. 

This semi-final turned out to be a bit different… Mumbai which struggled early ended up at 454 for 8; Services made 240 and Mumbai has progressed to Finals on the basis of 1st innings lead; will play Saurashtra on Jan 26th. In an extended session of an extra sixth day at the Air Force Station Palam ground, they dismissed Services for 240 and progressed into the final on first-innings lead. Dhawal Kulkarni picked up five wickets, which included a precise demolition of the lower order with figures of 4 for 15 on the final morning.  Perhaps if Services had battled the 6th day, toss of coin deciding the fate was a distant possibility.  
In the premier tournament always dominated by batsmen, Mumbai batted slowly; spent 143 overs over two days making 380,  they were 23/3 and then 104/4 with Sachin Tendulkar back in the dressing room.  Still good innings by Aditya Tare and Ajit Agarkar saw them through.  

My memory takes back to the finals in 1981/82  at Delhi in March 1982 – a scheduled 5 day match.  Karnataka played first.  Roger Michael H Binny scored 115; Brijesh Patel 124, stylish Sudhakar Rao 71, Kirmani 116, Ranjit Kanwilkar 116 – as they were all out after 255 overs making 705. Ranjit Kanwilkar,  an all-rounder was only 21 and was considered to be an exciting prospect.  Years later  he was among the many dead in an accident involving Island Express when coaches fell into lake Ashtamudi Kayal in July 1988.    Island Express was running between Bangalore and Kanyakumari. 
Delhi bowling was in the hands of Madanlal, Mohinder Amarnath,  Maninder (who went for 204 runs), Shukla and Kirti Azad.  Chasing  706 would appear most daunting and any team would have given-up, even before start.   Delhi had other plans.  Raman Lamba scored 36, Gursharan Singh made 101; Surinder Amarnath fell cheaply.  Kirti Azad,  Surinder Khanna, Madanlal all made useful runs – Mohinder was rock steady and made 185.  At one stage Delhi were 589 for 8 -  116 short……….   Shulka made an unbeaten 69 and Rajesh Peter made 67 in an unbroken stand  as Delhi took the lead.  Hapless  Binny, Khanvilkar, Vijaykrishna, Raghuram Bhat all went for 100 +   As there was no rule for unfinished match, the match went into the sixth day enabling the hosts to gain first innings lead and mercifully stopped at that.

So that is Ranji, tall scores, unfinished matches played on hard grounds offering nothing for the bowlers……  Will Saurashtra pull it back, stun the opponents and take the Ranji remains to be seen

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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