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Breakout stars of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy


Ranji_Trophy_India_Domestic_CricketAmidst the buzz of IPL 2019, which is just around the corner, yet another edition of India’s premier domestic tournament, the Ranji Trophy, came to an end. The Ranji Trophy is quite a different tournament. It doesn’t have the lustre & glamour, it is played over a duration of almost 4 months, without players getting instant recognition.

The cricket played in the Ranji Trophy is different- it is raw and the purest form of cricket, away from all those commercials & jerseys that metamorphose cricketers while they jargonize the art of cricket.

This season was the biggest Ranji Trophy season ever played. 37 teams participated with 151 matches played. At the end of the season, there were a few players who emerged as the finds of the season. Let’s take a look at their performance in the Ranji Trophy.

1. A R Easwaran

The 23-year-old left arm opening batsman from Bengal had a dream run this season. He scored 861 runs in just 11 innings with an average of 95.66. Although Bengal couldn’t make it to the final, his performances kept them in the race for the quarter-finals till the last day of the league stage. He scored 2 centuries and a double century, 201* against Punjab, which is his highest score in first class cricket.

He likes to bat for hours and scores big hundreds. In another match against Delhi, he scored 183* to help Bengal chase down 322 runs. It was their highest successful chase in the Ranji Trophy. Easwaran topped that up with a magnificent century against England Lions. He scored 117 runs while playing for India A to end the season on high note.

As a left hander, he has an advantage as India has a place for 3rd opener vacant in the current squad. With his fabulous knocks it will be interesting to see if he gets a call up for India’s tour of West Indies in July this year.

2. Priyank Panchal

There is no dearth of talented opening batsmen in India. Priyank Panchal is yet another opener. He amassed 898 runs in 17 innings with the average of 59.86 and also captained Gujarat for most of the tournament, while Parthiv Patel was away with the Indian team on the Australia tour.

He led from the front, scoring 4 centuries and 5 half-centuries. These performances propelled Gujarat into quarter-finals. Although Gujarat couldn’t proceed further, losing to Kerala in the quarter-final, Panchal’s brilliance with bat earned him a call up to the India A team. Just like Easwaran, he grabbed the opportunity and scored 206 in the 1st match and 50 in the 2nd. He has put his case for the national call up to the selectors.

3. Rinku Singh

Coming from an economically weak family in Uttar Pradesh, Rinku always had to face hardships. Now, he is the 3rd highest run getter in the Ranji Trophy 2018/19. Singh - a middle order left handed batsman - carried UP team to the quarter-finals almost single-handedly. He scored 953 runs with 4 centuries and 5 half-centuries.

His best knock of the season came in the quarter-final against Saurashtra. He walked in when his Uttar Pradesh were reeling at 54 for 4. He took control of the game and scored 150 counterattacking runs to take UP to a formidable position. Though they lost the game due to Cheteshwar Pujara’s rock solid innings, the match witnessed the rise of a new star; his team can bank on him in any situation.

4. Akshay Wadkar

If a team has a coach like Chandrakant Pandit, not only the most successful coach in the Ranji Trophy but also a wicketkeeper-batsman, then it’s no wonder that a rookie wicketkeeper like Akshay Wadkar will come up through the ranks very quickly.

Akshay Wadkar made his debut last season. But this season he has been instrumental with the bat. He scored 725 runs in 16 innings with an average of 60.41. He was terrific behind the stumps as well, with 27 dismissals in the season. He has been one of the mainstays of Vidarbha’s batting line up. At 24, Wadkar has the potential to take his game to the next level.

5. Aditya Sarawate

Left arm spinner Aditya Sarawate was Vidarbha’s highest wicket taker this season. He took 55 wickets at an average of 19.67 and ended up 3rd in the list of wicket takers. He has taken 6 five-wicket hauls and 1 ten-wicket haul. The ten-wicket haul came in the final when Vidarbha needed it badly. It shows that he is a big match player. He also dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara twice in the final, which is an achievement in itself, considering Pujara’s form both in Australia and in the knock out matches of the Ranji Trophy.

Aditya makes good use of his height to generate bounce. He plays a handy role with the bat as well. That gives Vidarbha advantage as they can play with 3 spinners and yet enjoy depth in batting.

6. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja

Vidarbha played the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra. If Vidarbha had Sarawate, Saurashtra had Dharmendrasinh Jadeja- another left arm spinner. He picked up 59 wickets in the season, finishing 2nd on the list of wicket takers. He had 5 five-wicket hauls and 1 ten-wicket haul. The numbers for Jadeja and Sarawate are almost identical. Thus, each helping Vidarbha and Saurashtra make it to final this season.

Earlier, when it came to a left arm spinner from Saurashtra, everyone knew only of Ravindra Jadeja. But in his absence, this youngster has stepped up to take responsibility. Unlike Sarawate, he has lots of variations. He is generally slow through the air and deceives batsmen with flight.

With so much competition in the spin department in India, Jadeja might need to repeat his performance in successive seasons to strengthen his case for getting into the national team.

7. Tanveer-ul-Haq

In the recent past, Rajasthan has produced a number of quality seam bowlers: Pankaj Singh, Nathu Singh, Khaleel Ahmed and the latest addition- Tanveer-ul-Haq. In his early days, Tanveer had to take real efforts to manage finances for his cricket and to make ends meet. His coach recognised a special talent in him.

Tanveer bowls in mid 120s but swings the ball both ways. According to his coach, he has the ability to deceive the batsman with his wrist position and seam movement. He took 51 wickets in the season, becoming the first bowler from Rajasthan to cross 50 wickets in a season. Considering he is not a spinner, this is quite a remarkable achievement.

Currently India has very few left am seam bowlers. Selectors will be keeping an eye on Tanveer’s development and performances in the near future.

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