The first round of India's 85th domestic first-class cricket championship - Ranji Trophy - ended a few hours ago. A total of 17 matches were played in Round 1 of Ranji Trophy, 13 of which were played in the Elite groups and the rest 4 matches in the plate group.
The defending champions Vidarbha put up a disappointing show in the first innings of Round 1 match against Maharashtra. After being asked to follow-on, Captain Faiz Fazal lead from the front with a gritty century to bail his team out of an innings defeat. Team Nagaland from plate group came out good against Mizoram to register an emphatic victory within 3 days. Uttar Pradesh put up a clinical performance against Goa to win by an innings and 247 runs. Led by the fine centuries from Mohammad Saif (125), Priyam Garg (117), and captain Akshdeep Nath (196), Uttar Pradesh posted a mammoth total of 564 on the board.
There were a lot of good performances over the last 4 days. Let us take a look at the best 5 from Round 1.
#5 Ricky Bhui (Andhra)
After winning the toss Andhra opted to put opposition Punjab in to bat first. Jaskaran Singh and Anmolpreet Singh were back in the pavilion with only 4 runs on the board. It was due to credible knocks from Shubman Gill, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh, and a ton from Sanvir Singh, that Punjab managed to post a competitive total of 414 on the board.
In reply, Andhra was reduced to 39/3 and nearly pushed to the walls. But it was Ricky Bhui who played an outstanding knock on Day 3 to rescue Andhra from a precarious position. Bhui, shouldering the responsibility, scored 181 to save the match for Andhra. He was ably supported by Srikar Bharat and Bodapati Sumanth.
The trio had 2 century stands among themselves to help Andhra manage a draw. He was finally dismissed by Anmolpreet Singh in the 146th over but Andra was out of danger by then and managed to take the first innings lead as well.
#4 Manisankar Murasingh (Tripura)
In the Group C encounter, Tripura and Services locked horns to start off their new season. Services won the toss and elected to bowl first. Tripura posted a good total of 360 on the board in their first innings, thanks to their captain Bishal Ghosh who led the batting with a classy double ton.
In reply, Services had no answer to the brilliant bowling spell from Manisankar Murasingh. Murasingh's incredible seven-wicket haul saw Services collapse badly on the third day to give Tripura a handy first innings lead. He ran in to the middle order to complete his five-wicket haul before adding two more wickets to polish off the tail.
Once again Tripura batted well to give a target of 355 to Services, but it was Manisankar again who accounted for the top order. He grabbed 2 wickets in his second innings to end the match with impressive figures of 9/88.
#3 Rajat Patidar (Madhya Pradesh)
After winning the toss, the visitors chose to bat first at Dindigul against a comparatively strong Tamil Nadu side.
The Madhya Pradesh team was jolted early as one of their openers Ankit Dane was back in the pavilion scoring just 4 runs. But it was Aryaman Birla and Rajat Patidar who stitched a century partnership to bail the team out of trouble.
Rajat Patidar continued batting with every new batsman at the crease and helped himself to a mammoth 196 (406) runs to guide Madhya Pradesh to a total of 393 against Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, he missed his double century by just 4 runs. He single-handedly took the attack to Tamil Nadu against the likes of Ravi Ashwin and M Mohammad.
He finally was caught behind to a ball from Mohammad. Scoring 50% of the team runs himself, Rajat started his Ranji season with a bang. Unfortunately, due to bad weather at Dindigul, the play was lost for almost 2 days. On the last day when Tamil Nadu got a chance to bat, the captain Baba Indrajith scored an unbeaten ton to take Tamil Nadu closer to the target but once again rain played spoilsport as the match ended in a draw.
#2 Bishal Ghosh (Tripura)
Services decided to bowl first and were good for the most part of the innings. It was a collective effort from Services bowlers to unsettle every batsman of Tripura. But one man stood out for his team and let his bat do all the talking. The first innings total of Tripura may not reveal anything at first look but on looking at the scorecard, it shows the complete dominance from the captain Bishal Ghosh. The opener continued his fine form to post his double century when no other batsman from the team managed to cross 50 runs. With the help of Ghosh's impressive knock of 201(369 balls), Tripura managed to post a total of 360 on the board.
In reply, the Services could only amass 238 runs. And once again it was Bishal Ghosh who followed his double century with a half-century in the second innings and Udiyan Bose who batted exceptionally well to give Tripura a lead of 354 runs. On the last day, Services kept losing wickets at regular intervals before bad light saved their day.
#1 Abrar Kazi (Nagaland)
In the plate group face-off, Nagaland took on Mizoram. Having won the toss, the Mizoram captain Michael Lalremkima opted to bat first. It was an utterly disappointing show with the bat as Mizoram were bundled out for just 110 in their first innings. The Karnataka born left-arm spinner Abrar Kazi bagged four-wickets.
In reply, Nagaland posted a massive total of 530 runs on the board. Once again it was Kazi, playing for Nagaland, who stole the limelight. Batting at No. 6, Kazi scored an unbeaten double century off just 215 balls. Soon after Kazi reached the 200 run-mark, Nagaland declared their first innings.
Mizoram had an uphill to climb and collapsed badly in the process of doing so. Once again Kazi shone with the ball to bag a five-wicket haul to skittle Mizoram to a score of 91. As a result, Nagaland secured a huge victory by an innings and 333 runs. It was indeed a complete one-man show from the all-rounder Kazi to take Nagaland to an emphatic victory within 3 days.