New Delhi: The second round of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season gets underway across the country on Friday, after an engaging first round of matches in which there were five outright wins and gripping, hard-fought draws at Indore and Nadaun. Round two sees three additional teams open their campaigns – Goa, Maharashtra and Saurashtra.
Here’s a look at the Group C matches starting November 9.
Jharkhand v Assam at Jamshedpur: Perhaps not many would have tipped this as the key encounter of Group C before the season, but after round one it has shaped into one. Both Jharkhand and Assam are level on seven points after outright wins over Jammu & Kashmir and Tripura respectively, and at the Keenan Stadium the two teams will be out for leverage at the top.
Jharkhand’s innings-and-31-run win in Jammu was in equal parts carried by the batsmen and bowlers. Skipper Shahbaz Nadeem took three wickets in J&K’s first-innings of 195, well supported by Shankar Rao; Rameez Nemat, Saurabh Tiwary and Shiv Gautam then scored half-centuries as the first-innings lead was secured; and then Nadeem snared 6 for 54 to seal victory. It is on the shoulders of Nadeem and Tiwary that much of Jharkhand’s success this season rests, but getting consistency from Nemat, Gautam and Rao will also be crucial.
Assam, led by former Maharashtra batsman Dheeraj Jadhav, won’t be pushovers like J&K. Assam are coming off a ten-wicket win fashioned by Jadhav’s 243, the second-highest score in their history, and fine bowling from the quarter of Abu Nechim, Arup Das, Arlen Kanwar and J Syed Mohammad. Jadhav has proven the bedrock of Assam’s batting in his three years with then, and has made a strong start to his fourth. The addition of Mohammad, a left-arm spinner from Tamil Nadu who gained prominence with his performances for IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore a couple seasons ago, could also prove huge for Assam. He marked his first-class debut with 89 off 170 balls and four wickets in Tripura’s second innings.
Jharkhand: Shahbaz Nadeem (capt), Manish Vardhan, Deepak Chougule, Kumar Deobrat, Shiv Gautam (wk), Sunny Gupta, Amir Hashmi, Ishank Jaggi, Jaskaran Singh, Rameez Nemat, Samar Quadri, Shankar Rao, Rahul Shukla, Saurabh Tiwary, Ajay Yadav
Assam: Dheeraj Jadhav (capt), Pritam Debnath, Abu Nechim, Arup Das, Pallavkumar Das, Deepak Gohain, Dhiraj Goswami, Arlen Konwar, Rajdeep Das (wk), Sibsankar Roy, Gokul Sharma, Amit Sinha, J Syed Mohammad, Tarjinder Singh, Hokaito Zhimomi
Himachal Pradesh v Services at Nadaun: Having failed to close out a win when it appeared imminent on the final day against Kerala, Himachal Pradesh will need to be better against a side that claimed three points from its rain-hit season opener. Services were the better side in Anantapur, taking the first-innings lead from Andhra, but know fully well that Aakash Chopra’s team won’t be so meek.
Despite a lead of over 300 against Kerala, Himachal failed to win in round one as a fine century from Rohan Prem earned the visitors a draw and denied the home team four points on an engaging final day. The bowling will have to be better for Himachal, but there are few concerns where the batting is concerned. Paras Dogra, Amit Kumar and Rishi Dhawan all scored centuries in a total of 536 for 6, and comfort in the high altitude of Nadaun gives Himachal the advantage. If Chopra scores runs, the hosts will be even tougher to beat.
In the rain-interrupted match Anantapur, Services took the first-innings lead and with it three points by bowling Andhra out for 251. However, their batting was not convincing. The top five contributed just 62 runs and it needed dogged application from Rajat Paliwal, Sarabjit Singh and Muzzaffaruddin Khalid to help revive Services from 73 for 5. A brisk unbeaten 56 from Shabad Nazar took the first-innings total from 201 for 8 to 297. The veteran batsman Yashpal Singh and the top order will have to step up against Himachal.
With the ball, Services appear too reliant on Nazar and Suraj Yadav. Against strong Himachal batting line-up, the visitors have their task cut out.
Himachal Pradesh: Aakash Chopra (capt), Sumeet Verma, Amit Kumar, Aatish Bhalaik (wk), Prashant Chopra, Rishi Dhawan, Paras Dogra, Chandrasekar Ganapathy, Gurvinder Singh, Hemanth Kumar, Vikramjeet Malik, Jitender Mehta, Mohinder Sharma, Mukesh Sharma, Sangram Singh, Varun Sharma
Services: Soomik Chatarjee (capt), Penta Rao, Pratik Desai, Ansuhl Gupta, Shakti Malviya, Muzzaffaruddin Khalid, Shadab Nazar, Nishan Singh, Rajat Paliwal, Sarabjit Singh, Avishek Sinha, Soumyaranjan Swain, Nakul Verma, Suraj Yadav, Yashpal Singh
Andhra v Tripura at Anantapur: Weather-permitting, there should more to gain for both teams. Andhra took one point from their draw against Services, whereas Tripura are in dire need of a boost after being hammered by Assam.
Andhra’s only innings in round one saw the hosts make 251, which was possible thanks to an eighth-wicket stand of 65 between K Sahabuddin (78*) and Vamshi Krishna and 31 for the final wicket. Hemal Watekar, captain AG Pradeep and domestic giant Amol Muzumdar will have to click if Andhra hold aspirations of progressing up the points table.
Tripura can take some solace from a second-innings fightback from 93 for 6 to 366 against Assam, led by their new captain Ajay Ratra. The former India wicketkeeper’s 124 and admirable work from the lower order averted an innings defeat, and the contributions from the lower order will also serve as some sort of confidence for Tripura.
Their bowling, however, looks decidedly reliant on Timir Chanda whose five-wicket haul was the plus point in round one. Tushar Saha did well to trigger a collapse that saw Assam lose their last five wickets for 30 runs to be bowled out for 450, but Tripura cannot allow teams to score over 400 every time.
Andhra AG Pradeep (capt), Bodapati Sumanth, Tekkami Atchuta Rao, Bandaru Ayyappa, Shaik Basha, Bharat Reddy, Gonnabattula Chiranjeevi, Amol Muzumdar, Rajesh Pawar, Prasanth Kumar, Syed Sahabuddin, Duvvarapu Shivkumar, Vamsi Krishna (wk), Paidikalva Vijaykumar, Hemal Watekar
Tripura: Ajay Ratra (capt/wk), Manisankar Murasingh, Abbas Ali, Kaushal Acharjee, Timir Chanda, Debabrata Chowdhury, Abhijit Dey, Rajib Datta, Sanjay Majumder, Udit Patel, Rana Dutta, Rajib Saha, Tushar Saha, Samrat Singha, Subhrajit Roy
Goa v Jammu & Kashmir at Porvorim: After finishing the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy season at third place in their group, Goa begin their current campaign buoyant with the inclusion of Manvinder Bisla. The former Himachal Pradesh and Haryana wicketkeeper-batsman made a name for himself after winning the Man-of-the-Match award for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 5 final, and now finds himself with his fourth Ranji Trophy team.
A domestic journeyman, Bisla will form the fulcrum of Goa’s batting with the likes of Reagan Pinto, Sher Yadav and Robin D’Souza expected to take shape. Pinto, 21, was the team’s leading run-getter last season with 272 and with Yadav, who followed third with 225, will be required to do better if Goa aim to make the knockout round.
Amit Yadav, who scored 259 runs and topped Goa’s wickets list with 21 in 2011-12, has not found a place in the squad. That makes the job tougher for medium-pacer Saurabh Bandekar, one of the brightest talents Goa have. Bandekar and D’Souza took 16 wickets apiece last season and need to begin the season on a strong note.
J&K’s defeat in round one was because their batsmen failed to deliver. They failed to reach 200 in either innings and the highest score for them in the match was 49; only one other batsman crossed 31. The failure of the spinners to contain Jharkhand will also concern J&K’s coach, Bishan Singh Bedi.
Goa: Shadab Jakati (capt), Sagun Kamat, Reagan Pinto, Harshad Gadekar, Rohit Asnodkar, Swapnil Asnodkar, Saurabh Bandekar, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Amogh Desai, Saahil Dhuri, Robin D’Souza, Ravikant Shukla, Keenan Vaz, Sher Yadav
Jammu & Kashmir: Aamir Aziz, Abid Nabi, Adil Rishi, Bandeep Singh, Samiullah Beigh (capt), Arshad Bhatt (wk), Ram Dayal, Manish Dogra, Manik Gupta, Hardeep Singh, Dhruv Mahajan, Mohammed Mudhasir, Parvez Rassol, Ian Dev Singh