Ranji Trophy 2009-10 November 14, 2009

Sunny in Indore but not in New Delhi

Cricinfo picks out the highlights of the first two rounds of the Ranji Trophy 2009-10

The action
The BCCI has become rather strict with suspect actions, empowering the on-field umpires to call bowlers - who are already on suspect actions' list - for chucking. Live time. No warning. Just to simplify the procedure: the match referee and the umpires meet the captains before the start of the match, and just remind the captain if his team features one of the 32 bowlers with suspect actions. After that, no more warnings. It's the naked eye versus the action. Right intention, wrong way, feel the coaches and the players. At least before the first match, the situation was not so clear, and the associations were caught unawares. And the same bowlers had bowled in the domestic Twenty20s. Baroda's Salim Veragi was called twice, his team-mate Rajesh Pawar once, after he had bowled 20 overs on the first day. Baroda acted after the first match, pulling out the duo from their next match. "We need to get rid of suspect actions," says Paras Mhambrey, Baroda's coach, "But we need a bit more clarity in the process."

Cricket returns to the valley
Belatedly. And fleetingly. First the Services team, controlled by the defence ministry, refused to travel to Srinagar for their first-round match against Jammu & Kashmir. Apparently players themselves still don't know the reasons. The BCCI acted swiftly, banning Services for the rest of the season, taking away all the monetary benefits that come with being a BCCI-affiliated association. Caught in the crossfire are Services players, who lose out on all their match fees and chances to make it to zonal sides. But cricket did return to Srinagar, in the next round when Haryana made the trip. The weather, though, allowed just 133.2 overs' play, during which time Haryana did enough to take a first-innings lead and three points.

The debut
Karnataka's right-arm medium-pacer, Abhimanyu Mithun, took 11 wickets in his first first-class match, including a second-innings hat-trick, against Uttar Pradesh in Meerut. The last Karnataka bowler to take a hat-trick on debut was Javagal Srinath.

And just for his name, Sachin Baby, from Kerela. He was born to Thodupuzha's PC Baby on December 17, 1989 - a day before Sachin Tendulkar made his Test debut 20 years ago. What a visionary PC Baby was, to name his son after Tendulkar, whom he had barely seen play. Can the selectors please learn something?

The triple
Haryana's Sunny Singh bettered his previous best of 137 and went on and on against Madhya Pradesh in Indore, hitting 44 fours and seven sixes in a 333-ball 312. At a strike-rate of 93.69, it has to be one of the quickest Ranji innings of such magnitude. We don't have exact details of some of the earlier ones, but Vijay Hazare's 316 in 387 minutes and BB Nimbalkar's 443 not out in 494 minutes might just be quicker. Anyway, Sunny's innings is the sixth triple-century of what seems to have become a deluge since 2006-07, when SS Das' 300 not out against J&K broke a seven-year drought of triple-hundreds in the Ranji Trophy.

Angry young men
What is it about Eden Gardens and flared tempers? After the third day of Baroda's second-round match against Bengal, Irfan Pathan - as reported by IANS - was so peeved with the curator that he "rushed menacingly towards him". The elder Pathan (Yusuf) was around, and he prevented physical contact. Interestingly the curator and the bowler were not fighting over the grass or lack of it on the Eden surface, but Prabir Mukherjee objected to Irfan doing an interview with a television channel inside the ground.

Elsewhere Dinesh Karthik earned himself a one-match ban for excessive appealing on the final day of Tamil Nadu's second-round match in Ahmedabad. That too when the match was headed for a draw. Tamil Nadu will now lose out on three main batsmen in the third round, with M Vijay and S Badrinath will be away on national duty.

The record, and the shadower
For about 15 seasons, he embodied Mumbai cricket, watching his mates go on and achieve greater goals at the international level, and not letting bitterness come in the way of his love for cricket and Mumbai cricket. But as he approached the record for the most Ranji runs, Amol Muzumdar was playing for Assam at the obscure North-East Frontier Railway Stadium in Guwahati. He crossed Amarjit Kaypee's mark of 7623 runs, and later told Indian Express: "How many players achieve things they wish for? I find myself as one of the unluckiest ones not to get the Indian cap, but it's okay. At least now I can tell my daughter that her father is the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy."

Pankaj Dharmani, another man who can consider himself unlucky for not winning a Test cap, is hot on Muzumdar's trail. In his match against Hyderabad, the wicketkeeper became the seventh batsman to cross the 7000-run mark.

Variable light, bad light
Ever heard of light varying in the same city? Last week, at the the Karnail Singh Stadium in the heart of New Delhi, bad light didn't allow enough play for Railways and Himachal Pradesh to even resolve their game on the basis of first innings. At the Roshanara Club Ground in the same city, the Karnataka and Delhi match was blessed with good light for three days, and a close finish on the fourth was spoiled by, er, bad light. On the final day, when the match was curtailed, Karnataka needed another 23 runs in a stipulated 19 more overs.

"I am not just angry, I want to tear them into pieces."
The president of the Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association, Farooq Abdullah vents his anger after Services' pullout

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo