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5 giants from Ranji Trophy history

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Ranji_Trophy_best_performers_India_CricketIndia’s most eminent domestic tournament – the Ranji Trophy – has commenced its 84th edition this month. Every year, a plethora of cricketers from all over the country strive to make an impression here for their respective teams. This is a competition, after all, where the selectors keep their eyes peeled for players, both new and old, to be considered for national selection.

In the tournament’s rich history, there have been countless names who have left a distinct impression. Here is looking at the five best performers from the Ranji Trophy’s history.

Wasim Jaffer:

One would think, given the talent he has, that Wasim Jaffer would have been one of the most prominent Test batsmen for India. That wasn’t to be, unfortunately, as he got to play only 31 Tests for India. However, this supremely talented Mumbai batsman has made a feast in the Ranji Trophy and is the only man in the history of the tournament to have crossed the landmark of 10,000 runs.

The lanky opening batsman made his debut for Mumbai in 1996/97, and grew from strength to strength to become one of the most noted batting heroes of the competition. Jaffer is class personified and has played many a memorable knock for his team in his illustrious career; most notable of which, perhaps, is his imperious 314* against Saurashtra in only his second Ranji game.

Till date, in 129 Ranji Trophy matches and 201 innings, Wasim Jaffer has amassed 10,143 runs – easily the most in Ranji history – at an average of 56.98 with a whopping 35 hundreds and 41 fifties. Jaffer moved out of Mumbai in 2015 and now represents Vidarbha. The current season of the tournament will offer him another opportunity to add to his growing tally of runs.

Amol Muzumdar:

In his early years, Amol Muzumdar was seen as the next big thing for Indian cricket. After all, he had made a sparkling unbeaten 260 in a Ranji pre-quarter-final against Haryana on his first-class debut. But the national call-up did not quite happen for Mazumdar, who made his name for Mumbai steadily throughout his career.

Mazumdar is often considered as one of the most unfortunate batsmen in Indian cricket, staying in the shadow of India’s greatest middle order. Someone who had 9,202 runs in the Ranji Trophy in 136 matches at an average of 51.4 with 28 hundreds and 45 fifties surely deserved at least some opportunities to play for the national team.

Regardless, Mazumdar remains the second-highest scorer in the Ranji trophy to date and it will be a herculean task for anyone to surpass him. Always easy on the eyes and with a superb technique, Mazumdar retired from first-class cricket in 2014 after shifting to Andhra towards the end of his career, but his remarkable exploits in the Ranji Trophy are a benchmark for others to follow.

Mithun Manhas:

Another prolific batsman who never really could make it to the national team despite his incredible feats in the Ranji Trophy. Perhaps, Delhi’s Mithun Manhas was just born in the wrong era. Because when he was busy accumulating bucketfuls of runs, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were thriving in the Indian top-order. But none can overlook Manhas’ superlative numbers. In 135 Ranji appearances – most of them for Delhi – Manhas has garnered 8554 runs at an average of 48.32 with 25 hundreds and 45 half-centuries.

A free-flowing middle-order batsman who relies on his confidence and grit, Manhas has been a real stalwart for Delhi cricket. Born in Jammu, Manhas recently moved to his home state and represents Jammu and Kashmir in the Ranji Trophy now. While the 37-year-old is now unlikely to feature in the Indian team, he is still not done with his domestic career and one can expect that Mithun Manhas will be adding quite a few more runs to his tally this new Ranji season.

Rajinder Goel:

It is rather odd that the man who has the most Ranji Trophy wickets in history is hardly talked about these days. But Rajinder Goel would not be much perturbed about that. The left-arm spinner from Haryana loved playing the game and especially relished featuring in the Ranji Trophy. “When I was growing up, playing in the Ranji Trophy was my goal. If you had to test your skill, you had to play in the Ranji Trophy,” Rajinder was quoted as saying to an Indian sports magazine.

The skillful bowler proved his mettle in the tournament and by the time he was done, he had captured a massive 637 wickets in 123 Ranji appearances. Goel also had an astonishing 53 five-wicket hauls and 17 ten-wicket match hauls with a best of 8-55. Those are some mind-boggling numbers and begs the question that why such a prolific performer never got to play a single match for the nation. Regardless, there is no denying that Rajinder Goel is a true legend of the Ranji Trophy and his accomplishments shall remain unmatched for a long time to come.

Srinivas Venkataraghavan:

He is the only player in this list to have made an unmistakable impression in international cricket as well apart from his superlative first-class deeds. Off-spinner Srinivas Venkataraghavan had an incredible Ranji Trophy career where he snared 530 wickets – the second-highest in the tournament – in just 96 matches at an average of 18.22 with 45 five-wicket hauls and 11 ten-wicket match hauls.

Born in Madras (now Chennai), Venkataraghavan was a seasoned match-winning performer for his home state and tormented many a batsman with his guile and turn. The master spin bowler was a true fighter and never gave in even during long wicket-less spells. While he played 57 Tests for India and was also a part of that renowned spin quartet, Venkataraghavan loved playing in the Ranji Trophy as well and was a true giant for Tamil Nadu cricket. At present, there is no other bowler who is even close to the numbers that Venkataraghavan has notched up and both the records and the impact he had on the Ranji Trophy will live on for long.

 

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