Ranji Trophy Round Up

With most teams having played four matches, India’s four-day domestic competition, the Ranji Trophy, is well underway. So far several players have impressed, both upcoming talents and established veterans. This article takes a look at the standout players so far and looks ahead to the next round of fixtures.

Ranji Trophy Round Up

Stars with the Bat

At the moment, Punjabi all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has scored the most runs in the competition. The currently out of favour left-hander has 587 runs under his belt, including a 260 in his last match against Baroda. Aside from his mammoth innings recently, Yuvraj scored another large hundred against Madhya Pradesh and a fifty in the second innings of that match. One of the most impressive features of his batting this year has been the quick rate at which he is scoring his runs. His innings against Baroda was scored at a remarkable strike rate of 70.

Yet, Yuvraj’s batting has been not as consistent as he would have liked. His seasonal average of over 80 has been skewed by two large innings and is not representative of his entire season. He has scored less than thirty in four of his seven innings so far. If Yuvraj wants to bolster his chances of returning to the India national side, he must aim to achieve some more consistency.

Deepak Hooda, the young talent from Baroda, has also impressed. Hooda, who made his name in the IPL, has scored three hundreds in the three matches he has played. The 21-year old amassed a remarkable unbeaten 293 last match against Punjab. His average of over 275 shows how he successful he has been so far. Equally impressive has been his seasonal strike rate of 79. His attacking mindset has paid off massively for him and he has a bright future ahead of him.

Perhaps the most consistent player so far has been batsman Rishabh Pant. The Delhi keeper has made meaningful contributions in every match he’s played so far. An average of 109 shows his ability to make big runs, which was highlighted in his innings against Maharashtra. In that game, the 19-year-old scored his first triple century as he piled on 308 before eventually being stumped charging a spinner. While most of the current leading run-scorers have been scoring at a fast rate, Pant has taken it to another level. He has scored his 547 runs at over a run a ball. It will be interesting to see if he is able to continue to his great form as he has a tough run of matches ahead of him.

Best Bowlers

On these Indian wickets, you’d expect the leading wicket taker to be a spinner. However, that is not the case. At the moment it is the Rajasthani quick Pankaj Singh who is leading. Pankaj has been in phenomenal form recently, excelling with the new ball. At the age of 31 and having represented India in Tests, Pankaj is extremely experienced. So far, he has been extremely consistent, producing two five-fors in seven innings. None of the pitches he’s been playing on have suited the seamers exceptionally, showing his skill in being able to build pressure and hit the right areas. He has given Rajasthan a huge boost in their campaign, and they would be struggling otherwise.

Another bowler who has impressed this year is Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner made his name with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, as he emerged as one of the most economical bowlers. His consistency is shown through his statistics this year. Chahal has conceded less than 2.5 runs an over on average and has picked up 22 wickets. The Haryana star is always a threat with his impressive bowling strike rate of 50. The pitches in India tend to assist the spinners and Chahal always makes the most of the conditions.

A 16-year-old has also been in the spotlight this year, namely Mahipal Lomror from Rajasthan. In his debut Ranji Trophy season, Lomror, an all-rounder, has been extremely effective. He has picked up ten wickets so far, but his miserly average and impressive strike rate have caught the eyes of the public. Lomror has taken his wickets at an average of just over 12 and at a strike rate of under 30. While he is still very young he may be someone to watch out for. If he continues at this rate he could have a bright future ahead of him.

Players Under Pressure

There have also been several players who have failed to deliver so far. Many fans have been concerned by the recent form of Mumbai fast bowler Shardul Thakur. Thakur, who earned a call up to the India Test squad, has had a poor start to the domestic season. In the two matches he’s played so far, he’s struggled to find any consistency has been extremely erratic. In his last match, he failed to take a wicket, conceding over 80 runs in the process. For a young talent who has caught the eyes of the national selectors, Thakur needs to improve to be selected again for the series against England.

Young gun Sarfaraz Khan has also failed to deliver for Mumbai this season. Khan, who became an IPL sensation for Royal Challengers Bangalore, has not found any form in the four matches he’s played. He has only passed fifty once, in seven innings, and is yet to make the most of the batting friendly conditions. There is a lot of expectation for this young batsman to deliver and there is no doubt he will be feeling the pressure from his team mates.

The fact that the players most under pressure are from Mumbai, shows how Mumbai are not reaching their potential as a side. While they’ve had a decent start, the reigning champions have not been at their best by any means. They’re currently in third, with one win and two draws so far. For the side who has won the competition 41 times, Mumbai are certainly not delivering at the moment.

Best Upcoming Fixtures

The next round of fixtures start on November 5th and there are many exciting contests in store. One highlight will be the clash between Delhi and Jharkhand. At the moment, both sides are second and third respectively in Group B. Both sides have looked in fine form and it promises to be a clash of the highest quality. As mentioned earlier, Rishabh Pant could play a defining role in this match, with his fine form being a huge boost to Delhi, who are the slight favourites for that reason.

Also, there is a top of the table clash in Group A to look forward to. Bengal take on Gujrat with both sides currently level on 15 points. This could be a huge moment in the season, as both sides are serious title contenders. A win for one side would momentous and could shape the nature of Group A. At the moment, I believe Bengal have the advantage heading into the clash. Technically Bengal are second on net run rate, but they have looked better in recent matches

The full list of the next round of Ranji Trophy fixtures:

Group A:

Baroda vs Tamil Nadu

Bengal vs Gujarat

Mumbai vs Railways

Punjab vs Uttar Pradesh

Group B:

Assam vs Saurashtra

Delhi vs Jharkhand

Karnataka v Vidarbha

Rajasthan v Odisha

Group C:

Andhra v Services

Chhattisgarh v Goa

Himachal Pradesh v Jammu & Kashmir

Hyderabad (India) v Tripura

Kerala v Haryana