Maharashtra and Mumbai progressed to the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy semifinals with wins over Andhra and Delhi respectively, taking the season’s tally of outright results to 54 in 112 games, while Karnataka and Tamil Nadu joined them because of their first-innings leads over Assam and Vidarbha respectively. R Samarth and Akhil Herwadkar, both youngsters, made headlines with the bat, and Shardul Thakur registered yet another five-wicket haul for the season.
We look back at some of the highlights from the quarterfinals, which concluded on Friday (February 20).
Siva stands out in Andhra’s loss
D Siva Kumar’s match figures of 12 for 120, which made him only the second bowler this season after Assam’s Swarupam Purkayastha to pick up ten or more wickets in a game twice and took him to the top of the wicket-taking charts, was not enough for Andhra to avoid a 75-run loss to Maharashtra in Lahli.
The game was the season’s 19th finish in three days or less, with the match between Gujarat and Haryana in the league stages having gotten over in two days.
Another high five for Thakur
Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur picked up five wickets in an innings for the fifth time this season in Delhi’s first dig at DRIEMS College Ground in Tangi. Thakur’s first for the season was against Railways, followed by similar returns against Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Baroda. Nilesh Kulkarni, the lanky left-arm spinner, was the last Mumbai bowler to have achieved so many five-wicket hauls in a season, and that was way back in 1996-97.
Thakur picked up three wickets in the Delhi second innings to become the third bowler after Rishi Dhawan and Siva to touch the 40-wicket barrier this season, with Gautam Gambhir one of his scalps.
After dismissing Gambhir, though, he got into a verbal duel, which led to Gambhir approaching him with a semi-raised bat before the scene was diffused by the umpires and Suryakumar Yadav. While Gambhir was spared, Thakur was charged under Level 2.4 of the players’ Code of Conduct and docked 50% of his match fee.
Herwadkar returns from cold
Akhil Herwadkar, part of the 2012 and 2014 Under-19 World Cup teams, returned from the cold after four seasons to record his maiden first-class century. He also stitched together Mumbai’s first century stand of the season with Shreyas Iyer for either the first or second wickets and laid the foundation for the 204-run win over Delhi.
Mumbai 2 Delhi 0
Mumbai met Delhi at a neutral venue for the first time in the 1996-97 final in a day and night encounter at Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior when they prevailed on the basis of the first-innings lead in a high-scoring game. The latest win made it 2-0 for them at neutral venues.
Unmemorable landmark for Manhas
Mithun Manhas became the third player after Amol Muzumdar (136) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (125) to play 125 Ranji Trophy matches, but he marked the occasion with a king pair. In Delhi’s first innings against Mumbai, Manhas under edged Thakur to be caught behind, and in the second dig he feather-edged the same bowler to give Aditya Tare another simple catch behind the stumps.
Swapnil Gugale, Maharashtra’s opener, recorded a king pair as well, while Anupam Sanklecha and Samad Fallah, his team-mates, joined Punjab’s Sandeep Sharma as the three other batsmen with five ducks against their name this season.
Another statement from Uthappa
Robin Uthappa’s 153 and 77 against Assam made him the third batsman this season after Sheldon Jackson and Paras Dogra to go past the 800-run mark. With 840 runs, he is now at the top of the perch, and his feat comes after he had topped the charts at the 2013-14 Vijay Hazare Trophy and the 2014 Indian Premier League.
Samarth has arrived
R Samarth made a splash when he hit six centuries in Karnataka State Cricket Association’s 2013-14 pre-season Safi Darashah tournament, but a settled top order meant that it took him time to break into the senior Karnataka team. Finally, when he got a long run, he proved his worth with consecutive daddy centuries. His 180 against Mumbai in the last league game was followed by a knock of 178 against Assam in Indore.
Lots of positives for Assam
If winning five matches and qualifying for the knockouts was not positive enough, Assam would have been pleased with their first double-century partnership of the season in their second innings against Karnataka after having been dismissed for 185 the first time around. Gokul Sharma made an unbeaten 127 and Arun Karthik chipped in with 94, the pair adding 203 runs for the fourth wicket in 46.1 overs.
South Zone v Tamil Nadu
S Badrinath and Ganesh Satish, two regular members of South Zone’s Duleep Trophy team for a while, did not quite manage to get Vidarbha, who they now represent as professionals, past Tamil Nadu.
Badrinath, who represented Tamil Nadu in 85 games before deciding to captain Vidarbha this season, managed 40 and 0, while Ganesh, part of Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy-winning team last season, registered a golden duck before remaining unbeaten on 59 when the game was called off.
M Vijay has been dismissed in the nineties on three occasions in Test matches, and nerves got the better of him against Vidarbha as well. Vijay made 96 before falling to Ravikumar Thakur. A little later, Ravi Jangid bowled B Indrajith three runs short of what would have been his second century.
There were no such nerves for Vijay Shankar, though, as he made 111 in Tamil Nadu’s first-innings total of 403.
Srikar at the top
Srikar Bharat, the Andhra wicketkeeper who had become the second after KL Rahul to score a triple-century in the previous round, effected seven dismissals against Maharashtra to take his tally for the season to 46. He surpassed Baroda’s Pinal Shah, who was the first gloveman this season to record 40 victims.
Debutants dry up
It was the first round this season that did not record a single debutant. The number of newcomers to the first-class circuit remains 92, 93 if we include Kuldeep Yadav, whose maiden appearance came for Central Zone against North Zone in the Duleep Trophy.
At the end of the quarterfinals
Highest run-getter: Robin Uthappa (Karnataka) – 840 from 9 matches
Highest wicket-taker: D Siva Kumar (Andhra) – 44 from 9 matches
Highest individual score: 337 – KL Rahul (Karnataka) v Uttar Pradesh
Best bowling figures in an innings: 8/29 – Swarupam Purkayastha (Assam) v Hyderabad
Best bowling figures in a match: 13/88 – Swarupam Purkayastha (Assam) v Hyderabad
Most dismissals for a wicketkeeper: Srikar Bharat (Andhra) – 46 from 9 matches