India’s Premier domestic tournament Ranji Trophy has reached it’s business end and the final four teams have been lined up for this year’s semi-finals. The four teams are: defending champions Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and first-timer Jharkhand. The first semi-final will be played between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot, while the second semi-final will be played between Gujarat and Jharkhand at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground in Nagpur . Both these matches are scheduled to be played from January 1 to 5, 2017. While the final will be played at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore from January 10 to 14, 2017.
On analysing the quarter-final ties that ended yesterday, the aforementioned teams played impressive cricket to outsmart their opponents in their respective matches; all played at neutral venues. This year, the BCCI Technical Committee chaired by Sourav Ganguly (and Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman as members) decided to select neutral venues for all the matches; taking to notice the ‘home team’ advantage that the state boards took in last few seasons.
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Here we briefly take a look at the scores from the quarter-final matches:
1st Q/F, Mumbai vs Hyderabad: Mumbai- 294 (Lad- 118, Tare 73, Milind-5/80) & 217 (Tare- 57, Lad- 46, Siraj- 5/52) beat Hyderabad- 280 (T Aggarwal- 82, Badrinath-56, Nayar- 4/60) & 201 (B Anirudh- 84, Nayar- 5/40), by 30 runs.
Man of the match- Siddesh Lad
It was a tight-game between these two historical cities, where Mumbai narrowly edged past Hyderabad, in the 1st innings taking a slender lead of 14 runs. And once again, won the match by 30 runs in the final day.
2nd Q/F, Karnataka vs Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu- 152 (V Shankar- 34, D Karthik- 31, Aravind- 3/16) & 87/3 (D Karthik- 41) beat Karnataka- 88 (M Pandey- 28, Crist- 6/31, Natarajan- 3/19) & 150 (KL Rahul- 77, Vignesh- 4/53, Natarajan- 3/40) by 7 wickets.
Man of the match- Aswin Crist
Termed as the ‘Southern derby’, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu always have played top-cricket in domestic cricket and have produced great cricketers who have played for India. On paper, Karnataka was the favourite as they had three Team India players in KL Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey in their playing XI, captained by R Vinay Kumar (India discard). On the other hand, Tamil Nadu didn’t get the services of Murali Vijay and Ravichandran Ashwin, as Vijay was recovering from an injury sustained in the final Test against England, while Ashwin was advised to rest. However, Dinesh Karthik and Abhinav Mukund’s experience counted well for TN as all-rounder Aswin Crist shone brightly for the Southern state.
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3rd Q/F, Gujarat vs Odisha: Gujarat- 263 (Gandhi- 81, Kalaria- 73, Mohanty- 5/68, Behera- 3/50) & 641 (Samit Gohel- 359*, Panchal- 81, Dhiraj- 6/141) drew with Odisha- 199 (Pradhan- 47, S Pattnaik- 43, Bumrah- 5/41) & 81/1 (Senapati- 59*).
Man of the match- Jasprit Bumrah
This match was all about the making of Samit Gohel as a stroke-maker as the right-handed opener created history by scoring the highest-ever score by an opening batsman, and climbing 5th in the all-time list in Ranji Trophy history. An unfancied Odisha surprised many by playing some impressive all-round cricket in their league matches; losing just one game; with performances coming from captain Govinda Poddar and all-rounder Biplab Samantray, while Basant Mohanty remained consistent with the ball throughout.
4th Q/F, Haryana vs Jharkhand: Jharkhand- 345 (Virat Singh- 107, Jaggi-77, Patel- 4/46) & 178/5 (Kishan- 86, Pahal- 2/36) beat Haryana- 258 (Paliwal-42, Bishnoi-41, Nadeem- 7/79) & 262 (Bishnoi-52, Rohilla-43, Nadeem- 4/78, Qadri- 3/75).
Man of the match- Shahbaz Nadeem
If it was Assam last season, this season it is Jharkhand that has surprised all cricket lovers in the domestic circuit. Captained by Shahbaz Nadeem, the slow-left arm bowler, who plays for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, led Jharkhand from the front in this tournament with confidence and exuberance, as they won as many as 5 out of 8 matches, to top Group-B, ahead of former champions Karnataka. 3-4 players form the performing unit in Jharkhand. They are – Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Virat Singh and Shahbaz Nadeem. These 4 will once again be the key against a strong Gujarat in the semi-final.