Comeback men, and comeback teams
Beware of Delhi
They were halfway through the tournament, failing to bowl teams out, and not batting too well either. Result: six points from four matches, their grip on the Ranji Trophy loosened. Two matches later, Delhi came back hard. Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma and Gautam Gambhir returned in their win against Orissa, and even without the Test stars they beat Saurashtra by an innings in Rajkot. Now they start the last round just one point behind third-placed Saurashtra. Delhi play Rajasthan, and Saurashtra play Hyderabad. There is more than just an outside chance that Delhi might just sneak into the knockouts. But a word of caution for other teams: by the time the quarter-finals arrive, all Delhi's Test players will be available to play.
Brilliance is boring
Somebody please stop Mumbai. Every two years they come back and crush all around them. They might have been lacklustre last season, but this time Mumbai have been Australia-esque in their domination of the Group A. They have won four of their six games outright, they lead the group, both the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in the Ranji season are in their ranks, and a familiar sense of predictability is setting in.
You can take Dilip Vengsarkar out of the selection committee, but not the selector out of Dilip Vengsarkar. Staying with two Mumbai players dominating the charts, Vengsarkar has expressed his annoyance that neither has merited a central contract from the BCCI. Ajinkya Rahane has scored 762 runs in six matches at 76.2, with four centuries, and Dhawal Kulkarni has taken 32 wickets at 14.5 in his debut season.
"It's quite absurd that these two names are not in the list as they are the leading run-getter and wicket-taker in the national championship this year. Ajinkya Rahane has scored more than 750 runs in Ranji this year and more than 1,100 runs last year in first-class cricket," Vengsarkar was quoted as saying by PTI. "Everyone would like to know the criteria of selecting the players, as it smacks of regionalism. I hope the BCCI takes up this issue at its next working committee meeting and add these two names to the list."
Look who's back
Sourav Ganguly. To help Bengal go through to the Super League. The former India captain will be playing in his state's Plate League semi-final match against Goa, where a win would earn them promotion. What's weird is that that they will try to win the semi-final in order make it to the quarter-final. Of the Super League, that is. Ganguly will not captain Bengal as he feels it's better if Laxmi Ratan Shukla continues with the job. A Test series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has ruined the grand plan: with Ganguly and Muttiah Muralitharan in the side, Bengal would have become serious contenders for the title, after having played in the Plate League.
Look who's back, too
Sreesanth. Proving his fitness. With match figures of 7 for 140 against Jharkhand in Ranchi. This was his first first-class match of the season after a side strain and a back injury had laid him low. He last played for India in the Kanpur Test against South Africa, in April.
"I am quite satisfied with the performance, and feel 110 per cent fit," Sreesanth said. "This match was very important for me as I have taken to the field after six months following the injury I suffered. I have really enjoyed the match against Jharkhand. I will continue to perform to my best and deliver result. It is up to the selector to decide."
Shane Warne's boys' corner
Ravindra Jadeja continues with his good form: but for his 56 and 143, Saurashtra's 10-wicket loss to Delhi would have been much worse. Siddharth Trivedi played his role in Gujarat's victory over Rajasthan, taking 3 for 26 and 2 for 63. Swapnil Asnodkar scored a crucial 84 in Goa's successful chase of 193 against group leaders Himachal Pradesh. The outright victory proved crucial as they scraped through to the semi-finals by a one-point margin over Haryana.
"No, I have no plan to get married in next two years."
Sreesanth may have said this, but why was he even asked such a question?