A good chunk of Day 5 – the last in the Ranji Trophy match between Jharkhand and Nagaland – finished in a draw. Jharkhand however, took the innings-lead points to qualify for the quarterfinal in a peculiar match that ended with them holding a 1,008-run lead.
According to ESPNCricinfo, the lead of 1,008 runs in the highest in the history first-class cricket.
Nagaland won the toss and decided to field on a batter-friendly track at the Eden Gardens.
And the North-Eastern side, from the Plate Group, were left to toil on the field for large parts of this match as Jharkhand had no incentive to go for a win.
Seizing the opportunity that came with the conditions, Jharkhand slammed a total of 880 in 203.4 overs, with Virat Singh (107 runs from 155), Kumar Kushagra (266 from 269) and Shahbaz Nadeem (177 from 304) notching up three-figure individual tallies. Jharkhand then bowled out the opposition for 289 – Chetan Bist providing the only form of resistance with an unbeaten 122 off 253 deliveries.
Instead of enforcing a follow-on, Jharkhand decided to bat again. With Jharkhand’s second innings score of 417 for 6, umpires Ganesh Charhate and Manish Jain asked players to shake hands.
Jharkhand head coach SS Rao defended the entire sham enacted by his team.
“Our motive was never to go for records. Otherwise, the likes of Virat Singh, Saurabh Tiwary would have batted. Three-point was enough to seal a quarterfinal berth. The wicket was very flat, so we gave the part-time batters a go out there and express themselves,” he told PTI.
“Our bowlers had to slog in the league round matches as most of our matches went till the final day. The temperature has also soared in the past few days in this part and we did not want to add to the workload of our bowlers who have been in the bubble for a long time now,” he added.
CAB pitch curator Sujan Mukherjee had defended the track stating that it’s the inept bowling and shoddy fielding by Nagaland, who dropped more than 10 catches during Jharkhand’s first innings, which is to be blamed, reported PTI.
“What was the need for going for an outright win, when a first innings lead was enough for us to qualify (for the quarterfinal),” said Jharkhand captain Saurabh Tiwary, as quoted by the Press Trust of India.
“We would have definitely gone for a win, had it been the condition to qualify for the knockout.
“Throughout the season, we did not get any batting-friendly wickets. So this was a perfect opportunity for our batters to get some runs before playing the quarterfinal.
“Our team is full of youngsters, so the idea was to give them some batting practice. It will be a tough quarterfinal against a more experienced side, but they will be ready, energy level will be right up there to face the rigours of a five-day match,” he said.
In the second innings, Jharkhand batted for 90.3 overs, and declared with 417/6 on the board. This time it was Anukul Roy, who top-scored with the only century of the innings, with 153 off 164.
Needing to chase down 1,008 with less than half a day’s worth of play left, the match ended in a tame draw.
This match brings to an end the first phase of Ranji Trophy. The quarter-finals begin after the IPL concludes in May.
Scores in brief:
Jharkhand 880 and 417/6 in 90.3 overs (Anukul Roy 153, Kumar Kushagra 89, Utkarsh Singh 73; Rongsen Jonathan 3/109). Nagaland 289.
Match drawn. Jharkhand qualified for quarterfinals on first innings lead
Full scorecard of the match is available here.
(With PTI inputs)
Correction: This match was a five-day affair. Article updated throughout with various minor corrections.