The first round of Ranji Trophy fixtures for the 2019-’20 season came to an end on Thursday with Mumbai announcing their intentions with a massive win. The 41-time champions were ruthless in their win against Baroda and, along with Punjab and Haryana, registered the most comprehensive wins to kickstart their respective seasons.
Defending champions Vidarbha were frustrated by Andhra Pradesh’s second innings rearguard while Tamil Nadu’s hearts were broken again by Karnataka – the Southern rivals have met four times this season already and Karnataka have emerged winners on all four occasions.
Here are the highlights of the first round of matches from the 86th edition of Ranji Trophy:
Best batting performance: Prithvi Shaw
There were three double centuries in the first round of fixtures and the two that stood out where Ganesh Satish’s rescue act for defending champions Vidarbha and Prithvi Shaw’s sensational innings for Mumbai in the second innings. The latter’s innings edges out Satish’s fighting effort because it paved the way for a big win for Mumbai.
On a pitch that was not the easiest to bat on in Vadodara, Shaw followed up his 66 in the first innings with a breathtaking 202 in the second innings to put Mumbai in a position to push for an outright win. A 179-ball innings studded with seven sixes and 19 fours made sure Mumbai had enough time to bowl Baroda twice in the match.
Shaw struck at better than run a ball in both innings and displayed the same aggression at the top of the order that excited so many Indian fans when he made his Test debut against West Indies. He has been batting with a real purpose since his return from the doping suspension as was evident in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.
Prithvi Shaw at Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 — 240 runs, 5 innings, HS: 64, Average: 48.00
“I turn 20 today. I assure it will be Prithvi Shaw 2.0 going forward,” tweeted the Mumbai batsman on November 9, ahead of his return from back to competitive cricket. It has been a sensational comeback from him since and he is living up to the promise of bouncing back strong.
Best bowling performance: K Gowtham
Watch: Manipur’s Rex Singh grabs eight wickets on opening day of Ranji Trophy’s new season
There were plenty of notable performances around the country with Rex Singh turning heads once again for Manipur while Jayadev Unadkat found form ahead of the IPL auction with a six-for for Saurashtra.
But the undoubted winner of this particular section has to be Krishnappa Gowtham, who broke Tamil Nadu’s hearts yet again in the domestic season. After his sensational last over in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 final, Gowtham produced an all-round performance for the ages in the match against Tamil Nadu to kick-start Karnataka’s quest for a clean sweep.
After a handy half-century and six-for in the first innings, Gowtham bowled 30.3 overs on the final day to pick up eight Tamil Nadu wickets, the last of which came with three balls to go in the match and earned his side an outright win. His 14 wickets in the match proved to be the clincher for Karnataka.
Best match of the round
There were two contenders for this particular section. Jharkhand’s win over Tripura in Agartala and Tamil Nadu’s heartbreaking defeat against arch-rivals Karnataka in Dindigul.
Jharkhand’s win was a near-repeat of the Eden Gardens epic involving India and Australia. Having been asked to follow on by Tripura, Ishank Jaggi and Saurabh Tiwary stitched together a sensational sixth wicket partnership, where they both made centuries to put Jharkhand back on top. And with bad light threatening a draw, Ashish Kumar picked up a five-for to bowl Tripura out in the second innings.
But as sensational as that was, it would be hard to beat an all-time classic involving Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. While the lack of telecast for the match was a downer, the twists and turns of the game over four days was unmissable.
First, Devdutt Padikkal showed a gritty side to his batting as Karnataka posted 307. When it looked like TN were going to collapse, Dinesh Karthik scored a defiant century but still the hosts fell short of the first-innings lead. But Ashwin Ravichandran led the bowling in the second innings with his four-for, to dismiss Karnataka for 151 and with a little over two sessions left, Tamil Nadu looked on course for an outright win.
And despite a blistering start from M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, Karnataka fought back through Gowtham’s marathon bowling effort. There was still a twist in store as a draw seemed imminent after a fighting ninth wicket stand between M Ashwin and M Siddharth but Gowtham picked up two late wickets, the last of which came with three balls to spare.
Top 10 batsmen
Most runs in the 2019-'20 season
|Pos||Player||Team||Runs||Inns||HS||Avg||100s / 50s|
|1||Prithvi Shaw||MCA||268||2||202||134.00||1 / 1|
|2||Ganesh Satish||VCA||237||1||237||237.00||1 / 0|
|3||Arslan Z Khan||UTCA||233||1||233*||-||1 / 0|
|4||Dinesh Mor||RSPB||193||2||102||193.00||1 / 1|
|5||Kedar Devdhar||BCA||160||1||160*||-||1 / 0|
|6||Sachin Baby||KCA||155||1||155||155.00||1 / 0|
|7||Iqbal Abdulla||SICA||145||2||135||72.50||1 / 0|
|8||Punit Bisht||MECA||145||2||125||72.50||1 / 0|
|9||S G Rohilla||HCA||142||1||142||142.00||1 / 0|
|10||Suyash S Prabhudessai||GOACA||140||2||91||140.00||0 / 1|
Top 10 bowlers
Most wickets in the 2019-'20 season
The complete standings of the tournament can be found here.