Ranji Trophy 4th round November 27, 2008

Superstitious debutant, a umpire under fire and other stories

Cricinfo staff
Highlights of the fourht round of the Ranji Trophy's Super League and Plate matches

Ramesh Powar, the offspinner, did the job with the bat this time to save Mumbai from a humiliating defeat against Saurashtra © AFP

Drama at the lovely beach town

J Arunkumar, former India A and Karnataka captain and the current vice-captain of Goa, has made himself unavailable for selection for the rest of the season. It's learnt that Goa administrators weren't too keen on continuing with "foreign" players. It will be interesting to see what Ryan Ninan, the offspinner who switched from Karnataka earlier this season, will do. Goa is coached by former Karnataka player Dodda Ganesh, who is expected to continue.

All out for 60
Punjab were shot out for 60 in the first innings in Bhubaneswar as Basanth Mohanty, playing his seventh first-class game, grabbed 7 for 27. Only Pankaj Dharmani made it to double figures and Orissa went on to clinch their first win of the season. Double joy for Orissa as Shiv Sundar Das, the captain, reached the 10,000 run-mark in first class cricket during the game.

The threat of Muralitharan and Dada
In the new format the top three teams from each division of the Super League will join the top two teams from Plate league in the quarter-final. Simple eh? But a few teams are wondering whether it's a good idea to finish on top in the Super League. Reason? They fear Bengal might be one of the Plate teams and they might unleash Muttiah Muralitharan and Sourav Ganguly for the quarterfinal clash. Ah well.

The run machine

Cheteshwar Pujara has accumulated 675 runs at 168.75 from four games. The run orgy came from only 798 balls and includes three hundreds with a highest of 302*. Is he thinking about national selection? Pujara just wants to concentrate on scoring runs and runs. And more runs. "I will try not to think too much about selection," Pujara said. He might have to wait a little while, though, because England have postponed the ODI series and are yet to take a decision on Test series after the terror attacks in Mumbai.

Superstitious debutant and an umpire under fire

Yogesh Nagar, the 18-year old debutant for Delhi, fought hard to give his team the first-innings lead against Gujarat in Valsad but was thwarted by umpiring errors. Delhi were struggling at 162 for 6, chasing Gujarat's 350 but Nagar added 108 runs for the seventh wicket with Sumit Narhwal. Nagar wore the same pair of sweat-stained whites that he had on the previous day but the luck finally ran out as the fatal finger of the umpire intervened. Narhwal was given out lbw despite an inside edge and Nagar (79) was adjudged caught behind. Umpire Sameer Bandekar, the man who made both decisions, apologised later. But Delhi were not satisfied. Sunil Dev, the DDCA sports secretary, said: "I will write a strong letter against Bandekar, he has a special dislike for Delhi. This kind of umpiring has taken away the spirit of the game."

Push me out if you can

Sunil Joshi grabbed a six-wicket haul to bowl Karnataka to ten-wicket victory against Baroda in Bangalore and move to the top of the points table in Group B. And it was Joshi's 28th five-for in first-class cricket. The Karnataka bowling machine refuses to come to a halt. His figures in the second innings read 33.2-12-48-6. Oh, and he hit a breezy 55 in the first innings as well. "The young spinners have to push me out," Joshi said. No one has managed so far. KP Appanna had a good first season but disappointed in his second season last year. Sunil Raju has started off well in his first season this year.

Powar play rescues Mumbai
Saurashtra piled up 643 for 4 declared but Mumbai capitulated in the first innings for 214 as the debutant left-arm medium-pacer Balachandra Jadeja picked up four wickets in Rajkot. Jadeja struck again in the second innings to reduce Mumbai to 89 for 5 but Ramesh Powar proved a killjoy. The gritty Powar, who had played a bad shot in the first innings to get out, stuck adhesively to the crease to hit an unbeaten 171-ball 23. Debu Mitra, the coach, was thrilled with Jadeja. "The four wickets on the third day are worth much more than a hundred on this track. It is flat track but that was an excellent spell of swing bowling and it opened the game." Powar was over the moon about his effort. "When I came in to bat we couldn't have afforded to lose one more wicket. The only option I had was to keep my head down and spend as much time as possible." But he said Mumbai have learnt the lesson. "It was an eye-opener for us. We took the opposition lightly and paid for it."