Patriot takes a look at the top performers of the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy, who may go on to impress the selectors and earn a future national call up
On February 7, India’s premier and oldest domestic tournament, the Ranji Trophy came to a conclusion as Vidarbha beat Saurashtra in the finals, to clinch the title for the second time in a row.
The Ranji Trophy this season, like every other season, was a showcase of domestic talents around the country and a proof of the immense talent pool that Indian cricket preserves. While most of the players try to impress the selectors and get a call up in the Indian team, there are players who are at the twilight of their careers and have retired from internationals, yet are churning out great performances at the domestic level.
Here is a look at some of the cricketers who have made a mark this year with their performances on the field.
Milind Kumar (Sikkim)
This right-handed batsman from Delhi once scored a blazing 75 in a practice match when India toured England in 2014. However, he never quite made it to the Delhi Ranji side, and was being overlooked by selectors. This year was equally tough for him as his mother passed away and he was rejected from both the Delhi ODI and Ranji sides.
He then decided to switch to his home team, as he moved to Sikkim — a side still taking baby steps in the domestic scene after the Lodha committee reforms for North-East states. In spite of this, 27-year-old Milind notched up a mammoth 1331 runs in 14 matches, becoming the highest run getter this season. With a highest score of 261, Kumar scored at an average of 121 with six hundreds, the highest this season by any batsman.
Wasim Jaffer (Vidarbha)
Wasim Jaffer was once a mainstay in the Indian Test squad as an opener. But with the emergence of several other players, Jaffer’s place seemed lost and he returned to playing domestic cricket — where he is now the highest ever run getter in the Ranji Trophy.
This season, he led Vidarbha to a second consecutive victory with 1037 runs, becoming the first player to score 1000+ runs in two separate editions of the tournament. Jaffer now also holds the record of winning in all the ten Ranji finals he appeared in – eight for Mumbai and now two for Vidarbha. With four hundreds to his name this season, Jaffer scored a stellar 206 against Uttarakhand.
Priyank Panchal (Gujarat)
In the absence of Parthiv Patel, Panchal took over the reins of captain of the side and made them advance to the Ranji semi-finals. With 898 runs in five matches, an average of 60 and the highest score of 141, Panchal registered four hundreds. His exploits caught the eyes of the selectors and he has been called up to play for the India A squad which tours England.
Cricketing greats like Harbhajan Singh and Andy Flower have also advocated for Panchal’s inclusion in the India side.
Abhimanyu Easwaran (Bengal)
Though Bengal had a disappointing run in the Ranji Trophy this season, the shining spot was batsman Easwaran who single handedly put the team in contention for the play-offs. He scored three hundreds, two of which he went on to convert into big tons, top scoring with a 201. These performances propelled an average looking Bengal side into the main rounds of the tournament.
Rinku Singh (UP)
Singh is vastly remembered for fetching an IPL contract last year with Kolkata Knight Riders, after which he failed to impress anyone despite being picked in the team again and again. But in the Ranji Trophy, he turned things around scoring 953 runs for his side at an astounding average of 106. With four hundreds and a top score of 163, Singh features third in the leading run scorers table, this season.
Ashutosh Aman (Bihar)
The 32-year-old left arm off spinner from Bihar went on to pick up 68 wickets this season, thus becoming the bowler with the most number of wickets in a single Ranji season, overtaking Bishen Singh Bedi’s tally of 64 in the 1974-75 season of the tournament. What is more astounding is that he took wickets at an average of just 6.4 with 9 five-wicket hauls.
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (Saurashtra)
In the absence of his much more famous namesake Ravindra Jadeja, the left armer lead the Saurashtra spin attack picking 59 wickets, which puts him fifth on the all-time list of most wickets in a single season. Jadeja was impressive not just at home — unlike the myth surrounding Saurashtra spinners — as 29 of his 59 wickets were picked in away matches.
Aditya Sarwate (Vidarbha)
Sarwate became the first player, after BS Chandrashekar, to take five-wicket hauls in both innings of a Ranji Trophy final, as he took 11 wickets against Saurashtra in the all-important game, clinching the title for his team for a second time. Overall, he stands third on the list of highest wicket takers this season with a tally of 55 wickets.
Though Shubhman Gill played just nine matches in the tournament, he scored 798 runs for Punjab at an average of 104 and a top score of 268 against Tamil Nadu. His exploits earned him a much-deserved call up in the India squad that was touring New Zealand.