Round two of the Ranji Trophy season culminated with some closely-fought contests and a number of eye-catching performances.
While India players Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami lived up to their top-billing, youngsters like Jay Bista and Washington Sundar made most of the opportunities in the absence of their senior teammates.
Here’s a look at the highlights of round two.
‘Rested’ Jadeja sends message to selectors
Rested Ravindra Jadeja sent a message to the selectors with an all-round show that included a double century in Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy encounter against Jammu and Kashmir in Rajkot.
Jadeja thrived in his backyard as he led Saurashtra to a gargantuan innings-and-212-run victory. Jadeja grinded through 313 balls and smashed 23 boundaries and two sixes during a 201 knock.
He later took four wickets to help skittle out J&K for 156 in their first innings. He returned to scalp another three as the opposition followed on. The all-round show knocked the stuffing out of the J&K outfit and scripted a memorable win for Saurashtra.
Bista makes chance count
Forty-one time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai went into their first game of the season with most of their top players away on national duty. Youngster Jay Bista, though, made most of the opportunity with a gritty 135-run knock that steered the team to 440 and handed the team crucial first innings lead after Madhya Pradesh posted 409.
The knock, which came at nearly run-a-ball, lasted 140 balls and included 18 fours. Bista was picked into the Ranji team two seasons ago, but had lost favour with the selectors last season as competition grew. The inclusion this time around was a big opportunity for the youngster to impress upon the selectors of his worth. The 21-year-old batted confidently and dominated the opposition bowlers.
Shami, Dinda sizzle
Mohammed Shami and Ashok Dinda produced a fine display of pace bowling in their side’s big innings win over Chhattisgarh in Raipur.
Shami picked up a six-wicket haul on Tuesday to earn his team a bonus point. He was the star of the show on the final day of the game as he broke a 172-run second-wicket stand between Abhimanyu Chauhan (115) and Ashutosh Singh (71), picking up wickets of both the batsmen to put Bengal on the road to victory. He ran through the middle-order thereafter with support from Dinda, who picked up three and was the perfect foil to Shami.
It was Dinda who took the charge in the first innings as Shami played the supporting role. The two decimated the Chhattisgarh batting line-up. Dinda picked up seven wickets. With a 10-wicket haul in the match, the lanky pacer was the star of the match and held his own, even as Shami breathed fire at the other end.
Jaiswal etches name in record books
Himchal Pradesh’s Pankaj Jaiswal smashed the second fastest Ranji Trophy half-century in recorded history during his side’s Group D encounter against Goa in Dharamsala on Monday.
The 22-year-old reached the landmark off just 16 balls. His knock of 63 took just 20 balls and included four boundaries and seven sixes.
The quickfire innings, though, was not the fastest fifty. The record belongs to Bandeep Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, who had achieved the feat off just 15 balls against Tripura in 2015.
The knock, though, highlighted Himachal’s batting boom. In the first round, Prashant Chopra had smashed a marathon innings of 338 against Punjab.
Another first for Washington
Tamil Nadu all-rounder Washington Sundar scored his first-ever first-class ton to help Tamil Nadu dominate Tripura. The youngster’s unbeaten 159-run knock laid the foundation for his team’s victory push which was ultimately quashed by rain.
With senior batsman Murali Vijay absent, Tamil Nadu relied on Washington to steer the batting. The 18-year-old was up for the challenge and struck four boundaries and one six during a steely knock that lasted for 231 deliveries. The effort included two 100-run partnerships and helped Tamil Nadu declare on 357/4 after taking a sizable first innings lead.
Despite the young age, Washington has been a talent to watch out for off late. His all-round show in the Duleep Trophy had steered India Red to the title ahead of the Ranji season.