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Thursday, November 1, 2018

37 teams vie for National honours ~ the Ranji Trophy 2018-19

Rains were feared ~ a fire in a plastic unit nearby too threatened – but Thiruvananthapuram ODI was a damp squib.  The average fan’s interest was arounsed with WI doing well in the first 3 - West Indies' batting unravelled when a share of the series was still up for grabs. Having been bowled out for 153 on a flat Brabourne deck in the fourth ODI, the visitors did even worse on a trickier pitch in Thiruvananthapuram, folding for 104 after choosing to bat first.  Virat Kohli’s plans were nullified as more happened than could have been planned.  The  match didn't even last as far as the scheduled 45-minute interval.  West Indies were bowled out for 104  in 31.5 overs,  India hunted down their target in a mere 14.5, as Rohit Sharma stroked an unbeaten 63 off 56 balls, adding an unbroken 99 for the second wicket with Kohli. Rohit hit four sixes - all clean hits, as they needed to be on one of the larger grounds in India - to become only the second India batsman to get past 200 sixes in ODIs.

Read this team :  Faiz Fazal (Capt); Sanjay Ramaswamy (no cine actor); Wasim Jaffer (the highest scorer in Ranji history); Ganesh Satish;  Apoorv Wankhade;  Akshay Wakhare;  Akshay Wadkar (wk);  Aditya Sarwate;  Siddesh Neral; Rajneesh Gurbani & Aditya Thakare

Less than an hour into the day, Manipur reduced Sikkim to 15 for 5 at the Jadhavpur University Ground in Kolkata.  However at close of play, Sikkim had recovered to 299 for 9. As many as 202 of those runs were scored by Milind Kumar, who remained unbeaten. He walked in at 12 for 3 at the end of the sixth over and batted 248 balls for two sixes and 29 fours. Milind, who has played 29 first-class matches for Delhi, received decent support from Bipul Sharma, who has earlier played for Himachal Pradesh. The two added 107 for the sixth wicket. Lee Yong Lepcha then chipped in with 25 vital runs to support Milind.

~ it is unlikely that you know these players or have read these names elsewhere – not sure whether MSK Prasad and his bunch knows these players and would ever discuss them  !!  .. .. for the uninformed, the first X1 were part of Vidarbha who won the Ranji trophy in Jan 2018.  Today, the  first round of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy got underway at multiple venues across India.  From Cheteshwar Pujara retiring hurt to Sikkim's stunning comeback, much happened on day 1.  Cheteshwar Pujara turned out for Saurashtra against Chhattisgarh but his hopes of getting quality batting-time ahead of the Australia tour was hit when he was forced to retire hurt with a sore neck. Pujara was on 30 off 64 balls when he was forced out. Saurashtra, who were asked to bat first, were on 282 for 3 at stumps with opener Snell Patel top-scoring with 91.  Ravichandran Ashwin bowled 21 overs for one wicket against Madhya Pradesh on an attritional day of cricket in Dindigul. Tamil Nadu's M Vijay, Gujarat's Parthiv Patel and Andhra's Hanuma Vihari are the other players in this round of Ranji Trophy to have been selected for the Australia tour. They are yet to bat.

The Ranji Trophy is a domestic first-class cricket championship played in India  equivalent to the County Championship in England and the Sheffield Shield in Australia. The competition is named after Kumar Ranjitsinhji -Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, an Indian prince and Test cricketer who played for the English cricket team.  Most of the teams playing in the Ranji Trophy represent states of India. However, there are teams that represent individual cities such as Mumbai or Hyderabad. The competition also includes teams that have no regional affiliations, such as Railways and Services. This competition was launched way back in 1934 with the trophy donated by the Maharaja of Patiala.   In the first edition, there  were 15 teams divided into 4 zones and a knockout format was followed.

The first match of the competition was held on the 4th  Nov 1934 between Madras and Mysore at Chepauk.  Bombay were the winners of the inaugural edition defeating Northern India in the final.  Of the earlier 84 editions,  Mumbai (Bombay) has been the most successful team in Ranji history. There have won the competition 41 times. They have also reached a record 46 finals.  The 85th season (the present edition)  of the Ranji Trophy (2018-19) will see 37 teams making it the biggest edition of the competition – both in terms of number of teams competing and the number of matches to be played.  For those interested in records, Hyderabad struck the lowest in Ranji history when they were bowled out for 21 by Rajasthan in 2010-11; their 944/6 decl is the highest in Ranji history. This was made against Andhra in 1993-94.  

                       India's domestic season for 2018-19 is set to be its biggest ever, with 37 teams participating.  The addition of nine new teams - six from the North East along with Puducherry, Bihar and Uttarakhand - has meant that there will be four groups in the Ranji Trophy, with the Elite and Plate Groups reintroduced. The Elite Group will have Groups A and B with nine teams each, while Group C will have 10 teams. The Plate Group will have all the new entrants: Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. These teams were added to the roster courtesy to the Lodha Committee recommendations that mandated representation for each of the states.

The list of 11 represented  Vidarbha,  the current Ranji champion beating Delhi by 9 wickets in the final match of the 2017–18 season held at Holkar Stadium, Indore. After passage of decades, Vidarbha did  what they could not do in 61 seasons, winning their   maiden Ranji Trophy title. They appeared in Ranji Trophy for the first time in 1957-58, and played 260 matches before winning.  Only two teams have taken longer to win their first title - Gujarat (83 seasons) and Uttar Pradesh (72). Vidarbha became  the 18th team to become Ranji Trophy champions.  The present decade has seen Rajasthan, Gujarat and Vidarbha getting their maiden title. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
1st Nov 2018.

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