The first round of Ranji trophy got over a day before and in 13 matches that were played only 3 resulted in a result. Tamil Nadu defeated Assam in the super league while Rajasthan and Jharkhand playing in the Plate league won their games against Hyderabad and Tripura respectively. Only one team in the Super league registered a victory and that is TN against a weak opponent, Assam. Mumbai, Bengal and Gujarat settled for first innings lead points in the super league. Not a great start to the premier domestic competition, though the first session of the competition promised much with about 47 wickets falling across 13 matches. Deepak Chahar packed Hyderabad for the lowest total in Ranji in that session. Incidentally Hyderabad also holds the record for the highest Ranji score (900 odd). Nice pair to have ;).
What does this season promise? More draws? I think so, if the first round is any indication. I am disappointed with Mumbai's refusal to try for a outright win when they could have enforced follow-on against Saurashtra with 204 runs lead and 60+ overs more to bowl. Jaffer may not have seen any on the pitch but then nothing wrong in trying on a last day (4th day) pitch. Instead he chose for some batting practice and notched up his second hundred of the match. It represents the mindset of many Ranji captains or rather team management. But not Gujarat though. They pressed for a victory and asked Railways to follow-on with a lead of 158 runs (150 is the lead required for enforcing the follow-on). Teams seem happy with first innings lead points rather than pressing for a win unless it is crucial for survival. May be pitches should improve and become more result oriented. Given the fact that these are 4 day matches, may be heavy roller should be abandoned for Ranji matches. But whatever aid they may be for results, approach of teams have to change. They should go all out for a win.
On the individual performances front, Jaffer has begun the season on a good note (hundreds in each innings of the first match). Surely few double and even a triple are waiting down the line. He is such a phenomenal scorer in Ranji that it is a shame that he failed to command a place in the Indian test side. Another interest is the return of ICL rebels. Sriram (who played for TN prior to joining ICL) scored a century for Assam against TN in a losing cause, while Rayudu scored a double hundred that helped his team avoid defeat against Orissa and win a point. Hemang Badani scored a useful 65 for Haryana against Himachal Pradesh. In total there were 16 centuries from 15 batsmen in the first round in both leagues.
On the bowling front, Deepak Chahar hogged the limelight with his 8 for 10 in ten overs that bundled out Hyderabad for 21. He followed it up with a 4 fer in the second innings. Though it is in plate league, Hyderabad is a decent opposition that got relegated to Plate league last year. It's the team that VVS plays for in Ranji. I would have loved see Chahar against Laxman. In the super league B.Mohanty (Orissa), Budhwer (Haryana) and Praveen Kumar (UP) took a 5 fers. They all along with L.Balaji lead the table with 6 wickets each.
Karnataka, last season's runner up, will be opening their campaign only in the second round of matches starting on Nov 10. Last season Dravid played, led and scored in most of the matches for them. It will be interesting to see how they fare without him. Uthappa, Mithun and Vinay will be tracked by cricket followers. Won't mind if there is another Chahar out there somewhere.
Chahar's performance is something to look at. This lad has enormous swing (both ways) and a decent pace. His stock has already gone up with reports of IPL teams lining up for him with cheques in hand. Nothing could be disastrous than that for the young talent. I just hope and wish he keeps his focus firmly on longer versions of the game and plays it hard for one or two seasons. If he does that everything, not the least money and fame, will come to him. More than money, the pressure of T20 that too in IPL could spoil his bowling. Many may not agree but T20 did a huge damage to Ishant's bowling.
Not sure how this post has come out. This is a hastily written up post. I will work out a framework for covering Ranji matches from next round onwards. Hoping for lot of fireworks and more results in the next round. By the way, just in case you want to about teams I support , it is Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi, in that order. The team that I like to see lose is Mumbai. Nothing personal just that they are the Australia (not the current one ;)) of Indian domestic competition. They have been too good for decades now and hence have upset the underdog supporter in me. They may win yet another Ranji this season, but then I am hoping against it.
Super League Points table http://www.cricinfo.com/ranjisuperleague2010/engine/current/series/465376.html?view=pointstable
Super league Most Runs list http://stats.cricinfo.com/ranjisuperleague2010/engine/records/batting/most_runs_career.html?id=5961;type=tournament
Super League Most Wickets list http://stats.cricinfo.com/ranjisuperleague2010/engine/records/bowling/most_wickets_career.html?id=5961;type=tournament
Plate League Points table http://www.cricinfo.com/ranjiplateleague2010/engine/current/series/465378.html?view=pointstable
Plate league Most Runs list http://stats.cricinfo.com/ranjiplateleague2010/engine/records/batting/most_runs_career.html?id=5962;type=tournament
Plate league Most wickets list http://stats.cricinfo.com/ranjiplateleague2010/engine/records/bowling/most_wickets_career.html?id=5962;type=tournament