Triple trouble, and the hat-trick man
The run machine
What does a team need at 100 for 4 after having won the toss? A triple-century from the No. 4 and a double from the No. 6, with a 520-run stand between them, should do. It did, for Saurashtra. The triple came from the latest run machine in Indian domestic cricket - the 20-year-old Cheteshwar Pujara. This was his third such score in less than a month's time. The first two came against Maharashtra and Mumbai in the CK Nayudu Trophy, both in Rajkot.
Only the ground changed this time: the first-choice ground in Rajkot had to host the ODI between India and England, hence the match was played at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium. This time he scored an unbeaten 302 not out against Orissa, at a strike-rate of 71.39, hitting 33 fours and three sixes. "There was this feeling that the first two had come at Under-22 level and things were easy for me," he said later. "But this is the Ranji Trophy Super League. This is first-class cricket. And besides, this one was vital for the team too."
His partner was the 19-year-old Ravindra Jadeja, who contributed 232 to the partnership, which was the world record for fifth wicket. They beat the Waugh brother's unbeaten 464-run association against Western Australia. This was also the second-highest partnership in Ranji Trophy, falling 57 short of Vijay Hazare and Gul Mahomed's 577 for Baroda against Holkar in 1946-47.
The Gilly trick, and a friendly fine
Yere Goud, the quintessential Railways player in terms of determination and grit, has found a new way to make his top hand more prominent while he bats. While batting in nets, he has been using a custom-made inner glove, with a half-cut ball inside. "I have been using it for some time now. Basically this year, I want to use my top hand more while manoeuvring the incoming ball, and that's why I am using it during nets," Goud told the Indian Express. "I'll never use them during a match."
Goud, on his comeback to the Railways side, helped them win three points against his team in the interim - Karnataka. Despite his heroics, Railways stayed strict on the discipline: they fined him Rs 500 because he wore a green helmet, as opposed to the team colour, blue. "I wasn't too comfortable with it. I continued playing with my older one and hence the fine," he said. "We have a discipline rule within the team, whoever is found breaking it has to pay the fine. We use the money for our juice and tea. Even team captain Sanjay Bangar was fined the same amount for turning up in the wrong training colours."
Offbreak bowler Pritam Gandhe is 37, is Vidarbha's captain, and is two short of reaching 100 first-class matches. Last week he took his second hat-trick, becoming only the third bowler to manage more than one in Ranji Trophy. His first came way back in 1993-94, against Rajasthan. His second helped them to a 135-run win over Services.
Services' Joginder Rao, who played only five first-class matches, took three, including two in the same innings - against Northern Punjab, in 1963-64. Anil Kumble took two.
Oops Ashish Nehra has done it again. Two matches into his first-class comeback, he strained his right hamstring and bowled only 10.2 overs against Hyderabad. Nehra wouldn't go to just any hospital to get an MRI scan done. He called VVS Laxman, who had reached Mumbai airport on his way back home after an emotionally draining series, for what he thought was the best place to go to. It brought Nehra good news: the scan didn't show any tear. The Delhi team, though, will wait on his fitness before deciding on their final XI for the home match against Mumbai, starting Sunday.
Angry young Irfan
A trivia first: this is the first time for Baroda that Yusuf Pathan has been away on national duty, and the younger brother, Irfan, has played Ranji cricket for them.
During Baroda's home match against Uttar Pradesh, Irfan got into a scuffle with some of the fans, PTI reported. During the match, he went out of the ground to argue with fans who were shouting out his name in the parking area. Some fans had apparently got into an argument with Irfan's driver near the ground. He rushed out on hearing about the incident, Baroda Cricket association sources said. There was a bright side to it, though: a female admirer caught hold of his collar and asked him to dance with her. But she was immediately separated from him and escorted away, the report said.
While on the subject of arguments, the Kolkata-based Telegraph reported on a dressing-room spat between Ashok Dinda and Shib Shankar Paul, during Bengal's match against Madhya Pradesh in Gwalior. The spat "threatened to blow out of proportions, but timely intervention by the team management prevented a crisis". What a shame.
Irfan and Praveen Kumar - the latter rather harshly - were left out of the Indian ODI side last week, and also came face to face when Baroda played UP. Both needed to make a statement, especially Praveen, and they did in style. He took five wickets to bowl Baroda out for 235. Irfan paid back in kind, taking five on the second day. After the first two days, they both had identical figures: 26-7-71-5. The difference though was Praveen's hitting. He came in to bat at 210 for 7, after UP had lost two quick wickets, and in a jiffy he scored 50 to take UP past Baroda's total, and get them three vital points.
Shane Warne's boys' corner
Jadeja had a dream week, getting his highest first-class score and best bowling figures in the same match. He hit 23 fours and two sixes in his 232 not out, his first-class century, and then took 5 for 44 to bowl Orissa out after Saurashtra had asked them to follow on.
Swapnil Asnodkar had a second good game in a row, following up his 191 in the first round with 93 in the second, against Jammu & Kashmir. Goa won the match by 110 runs, moving up to the second spot in the Group A of the Plate League.
Siddharth Trivedi, though, didn't have good time, as Gujarat slumped to an innings defeat against Mumbai. He bowled 30 overs for no wickets, and scored 0 not out and 1. In the second innings, Gujarat managed only 44, their second-lowest total in Ranji Trophy.
"The selectors want a complete review of the fitness of the team. We want a detailed report of the team in writing by the physio, once the team returns."
Anil Jain, one of the Delhi selectors, after Nehra's injury, and reports that a few other players were carrying injuries. Better late than never, then.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo