It has been a two-part season for India’s premier domestic first-class tournament. The knockout matches of the Ranji Trophy will be played in Bengaluru from Monday, a few months after the league match ends.
The return of the Ranji Trophy has come after a season break, prompted by COVID-19 Epidemic. The rigged format offered only three games for each team, with only the table-toppers advancing to the knock-outs. The number of games was reduced from 169 games to 65 as compared to 2019-20 (previous Ranji edition).
However, the shortened season produced several close competitions. Those that easily come to mind include 41-time winners Mumbai against Goa, Jharkhand’s 15-run and two-wicket wins against Delhi and Tamil Nadu respectively, Bengal chasing 350 after being bowled out for 88 against Baroda , and Uttar Pradesh chasing 359 on the last day against Maharashtra. Teams were going for kills and this also showed that the first innings lead was losing value.
Jharkhand vice-captain Virat Singh, who has been a part of two Humdingers in the league stage, feels this format is more exciting as one cannot slip-up.
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“You can’t take the lead in the first innings because the season is short. Both teams need those six points, and it makes the match more competitive. You cannot afford to let your guard down,” explains Virat Indian Express,
#Ranji Trophy 2021-22 will resume tomorrow. I
A look at the quarterfinal matches. I
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) 5 June 2022
For Bengal coach Arun Lal, the layoff season is like a poker game but there is hope that the Ranji Trophy will return to its traditional format.
“It should be a one time season. Three games is not enough to define that some teams are good while some are not. Teams like Delhi and Tamil Nadu failed to make the quarters. Does that mean they are good enough? Were not good? If there was a longer season, we’d probably see them turn things around. This reduced season has been like playing poker. Even if you won two out of three games, you can still fail to make the cut Look at Kerala, they won two games in a big way but one draw and they are not in the knock-outs,” says Lal.
“In the 2019-20 season, our last two league matches against Rajasthan and Punjab were winning matches. We won both the matches and then went to play the final. You will always get to see exciting matches in Ranji Trophy. Yes, there will be some dull games too, but a long season is what makes a cricketer. (Rahul) Dravid (Rahul), VVS (Lakshman), (Wasim) Jafar, and more recently Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) and Mayank (Agarwal); He literally broke the door to get to the Indian side. The reason he has piled up tons and runs was because of the long season as it tests a cricketer’s mental strength,” said Lal, whose team will face Jharkhand.
senior batsman of punjab Mandeep SinghJoe, who is the leading scorer for his team with 358 runs, says the trimmed format had made the competition more exciting but at the same time he expects it to be just a season change.
“I just wanted to play Ranji Trophy. That’s why I never thought about the shorter format. All games must be won, and it certainly fueled the excitement. But in the bigger picture, I hope it’s just a matter of season one. I would love to go back to the old format as it tests you more, you get more matches under your belt, get to play on different surfaces, which tests your technique as a batsman,” said the middleman. Mandeep says before the quarter-final against the state.
“If I am not mistaken, in the 2019-20 season, when I was the captain of Punjab, we got results in six out of the eight matches we played.”
Close finale in the league stage:
Jharkhand captain Virat Singh declared on 307/7, leaving Delhi with a target of 335 in just two-and-a-half sessions. Before veteran spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (5/58 and 5/83), Delhi’s Dhruv Shourie retaliated with 136 runs to register a 15-run win.
Rinku’s master class
Maharashtra took a first innings lead of 145 runs and then declared their second innings at 211-5, setting Uttar Pradesh a target of 359 runs on the final day. Almas Shaukat (100) and Karan Sharma (116) shared a 142-run partnership for the third wicket. But it was Rinku Singh, whose unbeaten 78 off 60 balls helped Uttar Pradesh chase down the target in 70.1 overs.
Mumbai escapes from fear
The home giants were bowled out for 163 runs. After taking a 164-run lead in the first innings, Mumbai were struggling at 208/7 before Shams Mulani (50) and Tanush Kotian (98) shared a 116-run stand. Mulani, who hit a six in the first innings, added five more in the second innings as Goa were bowled out for 112.
Jharkhand score bad
Jharkhand’s regular skipper Saurabh Tiwary (58 and 93) came back after recovering from diarrhea to guide his team to a two-wicket victory. Rahul Shukla (3/57 and 5/29) brought Jharkhand back into the game and also scored the winning runs.
Bengal vs Jharkhand: Just Cricket Academy, Bangalore
Mumbai vs Uttarakhand: KSCA Cricket Ground (2), Aluru
Karnataka vs Uttar Pradesh: KSCA Cricket Ground, Aluru
Punjab vs Madhya Pradesh: KSCA Cricket Ground (3), Aluru