Ranji Trophy: How Bengal, Saurashtra, Uttarakhand and Andhra reached quarter-finals
The league stage, which saw high points and close matches, left eight quarter-finalists in their bid to take another step towards the Ranji Trophy crown for 2022-23.
Win 4, Lose 1, Draw 2 (2 first innings leads); Points – 32
Twice this season, against Uttar Pradesh and Baroda, Bengal were on the back foot. But both times, they showed immense confidence to turn things around and win. These two games aside, Bengal flexed their muscles for most of the group stages before giving Odisha an eye-opener in the final group match at the Eden Green Top, where they missed the services of Anusthu Majumdar (thumb injury) and Akash Deep. (Concussion) and Shahbaz Ahmed (National Duty).
A top performer
Bengal has rewarded artists of all ages. 38-year-old Anusthub Majumdar is a prime example. He lived up to his billing as a crisis man and was their second highest run-scorer with 565 runs in 10 innings at 62.77. Chasing 257 in their opening match, he scored an unbeaten 83 in a tough second innings. Overall, he has scored two centuries and two fifties so far. The Bengals hope he can recover from his thumb injury before the quarterfinals.
Win 3, Lose 0, Draw 4 (4 first innings lead); Points – 29
Cricket continues to thrive in Uttarakhand amid allegations of financial irregularities by the association, player facilities and outstanding payments and interference in the selection of “influential” members.
A top performer
Mayank Mishra has become one of the linchpins of Uttarakhand over time. The left-arm spinner leads their wicket tally with 32 scalps in seven matches. In doing so, he proved equally successful against elite teams.
Win 3, Lose 2, Draw 2 (2 first innings leads); Points – 26
A slow start in the first two games led to a historic first win against Mumbai. Saurashtra then beat Delhi and Hyderabad to clear the void. However, going into the knockouts, they were given a reality check following losses to Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. As if that was not enough, their inspirational captain Jaidev Unadgad, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja, who led them in the final league match, will be missing due to national commitments. Saurashtra showed that they are not all about their superstars. It has helped them reach two finals in the last three seasons, including a historic first title in 2020. However, against Punjab, they will have their work cut out for them.
If Ravindran doesn’t get you, Dharmendra Singh Jadeja will. The left-arm spinner was instrumental in Saurashtra’s win. In the lower middle order, he played plucky knocks like his 90 in the second innings against Mumbai in a match-winning effort. In the same match, he returned six wickets with 51 runs. Overall, he is the highest wicket-taker with 29 wickets in seven matches. Newcomer Yuvraj Singh Todia has impressed in his debut season, taking 26 wickets in five games with his loopy offspin, exploiting the rough play created by Jadeja from one end.
Win 4, Lose 2, Draw 1 (2 first innings leads); Points – 32
In what was billed as the group of death, Andhra lagged behind for more than half of the season before they suddenly emerged in the new year. The turnaround began with a resounding win at home against arch-rivals Hyderabad. However, when they took the lead in their next game against Delhi, they faced two wins to stay in the competition. One of them was away against Saurashtra.