Mayank Agarwal became the third Karnataka player to score a triple ton in Ranji Trophy after teammates KL Rahul and Karun Nair. © Wisden India

Mayank Agarwal became the third Karnataka player to score a triple ton in Ranji Trophy after teammates KL Rahul and Karun Nair. © Wisden India

There was a unique trend during the fourth round of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18. In the earlier rounds, a number of matches ended in innings victories inside three days, where some teams completely dominated while others surrendered without much fight.

This week was different. Every match continued until the fourth and final day, and though 10 out of 12 matches produced results, only two of them finished with an innings win. Even the two matches that were drawn were not dull affairs.

The buildup to Round Four

The results

Punjab and Karnataka overshadowed their opponents with innings victories while Andhra, Delhi, Gujarat, Kerala, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Saurashtra and Vidarbha also picked up win in this round.

The Bengal v Himachal Pradesh match took an interesting turn in the final session of the fourth day, with Bengal chasing a tricky 141-run target in 15 overs at Eden Gardens. But Rishi Dhawan stifled the hosts with 4 for 37 and end their plans of trying to pull off a T20-esque chase.

The other drawn match was between Baroda and Tripura, where as many as 1,042 runs were scored with both teams fighting hard to pick up crucial points from the fixture.

It was mostly bat dominating ball, with one triple century (Mayank Agarwal, Karnataka) and two double-centuries (Anmolpreet Singh, Punjab and Cheteshwar Pujara, Saurashtra) being scripted this week.

The numbers that mattered
Mayank Agarwal enters 300-club
Karnataka beat Maharashtra by an innings and 136 runs. The chief architect of the win, before the bowlers dismantled Maharashtra, was Agarwal, who smashed an unbeaten 304 to become the third triple centurion this season. Agarwal became the third Karnataka player to score a triple ton in Ranji Trophy after teammates KL Rahul (337 v Uttar Pradesh in 2014-15) and Karun Nair (328 v Tamil Nadu in 2015-16 final).

Nair had the best vantage point — from the non-striker’s end — as the duo put on 279 for the third wicket against a hapless Maharashtra bowling attack. It was Karnataka’s highest third-wicket stand against Maharashtra, going past the previous highest of 216 between Rahul and Ganesh Satish in 2013-14.

“Despite registering a pair in my last game, I felt good that the selectors and captain still backed me,” Agarwal told Wisden India after registering the 50th triple ton on Indian soil. “It came as a morale booster. My approach to this knock was no different, it’s just that I wanted to bat long and score big.”

Pujara, the doubles player
Cheteshwar Pujara hit 204 against Jharkhand. As hard as it might be to believe, it was his 12th 200-plus first-class score — the most by an Indian. Vijay Merchant had 11, and though KS Ranjitsinhji scored 14, it’s not taken into account here since he played only for England.

Pujara’s 355-ball effort spanned over 566 minutes. It is the second-longest innings by a Saurashtra batsman in Ranji Trophy.

Pujara’s 210-run association with Chirag Jani was the highest sixth-wicket stand for Saurashtra. [The previous best was 174 between Jaydev Shah and Chirag Jani against Maharashtra last season.]

Anmolpreet’s exuberance of youth
Anmolpreet Singh, the Punjab batsman who engineered his side’s splendid win over Chhattisgarh with a brisk knock of 267 off 262 balls, broke quite a few records along the way.

At 19 years and 218 days, he became the second youngest Punjab player to score a double-century in first-class cricket, behind Reetinder Sodhi’s record (17 years, 17 days).

Anmolpreet reached 250 in only 249 balls — the fastest to the mark by a Punjab batsman in first-class history. Before him, all ten 250-plus knocks for Punjab were struck at a strike-rate less than 80.

The Prithvi-Sachin connection

© Wisden India

Prithvi Shaw now has four centuries and a half-century for Mumbai in five first-class appearances. © Wisden India

Speaking of youngsters and records, Prithvi Shaw has been creating ripples across the domestic circuit ever since his debut last season. The youngster now has four centuries and a half-century for Mumbai in five first-class appearances.

Only Sachin Tendulkar had more centuries under his belt before turning 18. Tendulkar had seven tons in that period, while Ambati Rayudu and Shaw are now tied in the race with four tons each. Ankit Bawne is fourth on the list, with three centuries against his name.

With Shaw’s 18th birthday coming up in four days, he won’t get a chance to better that record, but that isn’t likely to slow him down.

In other news…

– Devendra Bundela joined Wasim Jaffer and Amol Muzumdar in the 9000-run club in Ranji Trophy.
– Another veteran, Yashpal Singh, crossed 8000 runs in first-class matches.
– Mohammad Kaif went past 6000 runs in Ranji Trophy.
– Ambati Rayudu and Uday Kaul went past 6000 first-class runs.
– Pujara passed 5000 runs in Ranji Trophy matches.
– Manprit Juneja went past 3000 runs in first-class cricket.
– Chirag Gandhi reached 1000 first-class runs.
– Rujul Bhatt and Mayank Agarwal got to 2000 first-class runs.
– Ishant Sharma took his 350th first-class wicket and, in the process, got to 100 Ranji wickets.
– Basant Mohanty got to 300 first-class wickets.
– Shardul Thakur and Parvez Rasool grabbed their 150th wickets in Ranji Trophy.
– Sandeep Sharma bagged his 150th wicket in first-class cricket.
– Manan Sharma bagged his 100th first-class wicket.
– R Vinay Kumar captained Karnataka for the 50th time this week.

A shoddy cover after a bizarre drive

In one of the most weird incidents one could recall happening on a cricket field, a car drove onto the pitch at Palam A ground in the final session of the third day’s play between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The man behind the wheels claimed he was lost, and with no security present at the gate, he drove in to take two rounds around the pitch before being dragged away by the authorities.

The incident occurred 10 minutes after the scheduled close of play, though the match was still on with the umpires opting to use the optional extra half an hour to make up for lost time.

After several speculations, the family of the man — identified as AK Sharma — said he had no bad intentions, and was only trying to witness a game up close. As a result of this over-enthusiastic individual, no spectators were allowed to attend the fourth day’s play at the venue.

Irfan Pathan left in the dark

Irfan, who was stripped of the captaincy and unceremoniously dropped from Baroda’s Ranji Trophy side for the third match of the season, confirmed to Wisden India that he was yet to hear from the selection panel and didn’t know why he got the axe.

The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) selection committee handed over the captaincy to Deepak Hooda, after the side lost to Madhya Pradesh in the opening round and conceded the first-innings lead against Andhra in the next game. In the fourth round, Baroda drew against Tripura despite scoring 521 in their first innings.

Irfan, who recently turned 33, has no fitness issues. He made 80 against Madhya Pradesh and took a wicket in both the games he played this season.

Connor Williams, the former Baroda batsman and chairman of national junior selection committee, was one of the most prominent figures to oppose the BCA’s decision to sideline Irfan.

Debutants

Welcome to 1st Class Cricket Akshay K (F) C. Here's to a successful debut and beyond.

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Team Player
Hyderabad Rohit Rayudu, middle-order batsman/offspinner
Odisha Shantanu Mishra, middle-order batsman/offspinner
Karnataka Dega Nischal, top-order batsman
Kerala KC Akshay, offspinner
Chhattisgarh Siddharth Chandrakar, opening batsman
Shourabh Kharwar, right-arm pacer
Himachal Pradesh Sidharth Sharma, right-arm pacer
Baroda Rudresh Vaghela, left-arm spinner
Mitesh Patel, wicketkeeper-batsman

Social Media Watch

In the middle of the riveting action, some of the players got some time to spend with their families…

…while Punit Bisht got hitched.

The victorious sides were not shy about their feats.

Looks like the Punjab players didn’t enjoy the hospitality in Raipur.

November 4 is a red letter day in Ranji Trophy.

Trendsetters

Highest match aggregate:
– in Round 4: 1223 (Saurashtra v Jharkhand in Rajkot)
– Overall: 1475 (Himachal Pradesh v Punjab in Dharamshala)

Highest innings total:
– in Round 4: Punjab – 653 for 9 declared (v Chhattisgarh)
– Overall: Himachal Pradesh – 729 for 8 declared (v Punjab)

Highest run-getter:
– in Round 4: Mayank Agarwal (Karnataka) – 304 runs
– Overall: Hanuma Vihari (Andhra) – 573 runs in four matches

Highest individual score:
– in Round 4: 304 not out (Mayank Agarwal, for Karnataka v Maharashtra)
– Overall: 338 (Prashant Chopra, for Himachal Pradesh v Punjab)

Highest wicket-taker:
– in Round 4: Parvez Rasool (Jammu & Kashmir) – 11 wickets
– Overall: Jalaj Saxena (Kerala) – 29 wickets in four matches

Best bowling figures in an innings:
– in Round 4: 6 for 59 (R Vinay Kumar, for Karnataka v Maharashtra)
– Overall: 8 for 85 (Jalaj Saxena, for Kerala v Rajasthan)

Best bowling figures in a match:
– in Round 4: 11 for 140 (Parvez Rasoon, for Jammu & Kashmir v Kerala)
– Overall: 12 for 184 (Chirag Khurana, for Maharashtra v Uttar Pradesh)

Most dismissals by a wicketkeeper:
– in Round 4: 10 (Wriddhiman Saha, for Bengal v Himachal Pradesh)
– Overall: Srikar Bharat (Andhra) – 17 in four matches

Highest partnership:
– in Round 4: 279 (for the third wicket between Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair for Karnataka v Maharashtra)
– Overall: 308 (for the third wicket between Hanuma Vihari and Ricky Bhui for Andhra v Baroda)

Total debutants this season so far: 45

Total bonus-point wins:
In Round 4: 2; Overall: 12

Total three-day finishes:
In Round 4: 0; Overall: 6

Total two-day finishes:
In Round 4: 0; Overall: 0

Also Read: Ranji Digest, Round 3