Ranji Trophy 2009-10 November 28, 2009

Angry Tiwary, happy Joshi, triumphant Karthik and other stories

Cricinfo picks out the highlights of the fourth round of the Ranji Trophy 2009-10

The crime

Stop the press. Cheteshwar Pujara missed a ton. How dare he? The Saurashtra run machine, who hit a double hundred in the last round, fell for 84 this time. The selectors will now use this excuse to not give him a go. Focus Pujara focus!

The backfire that wasn't

Dinesh Karthik took a brave decision to declare overnight on the first day at 293 for 8. Karthik apparently wanted to use the early morning moisture but it was Himachal Pradesh who did the dew and took the vital lead by posting 366. When Karthik's critics were sharpening their knives, Tamil Nadu roared back into the game by hitting 319 in their second gig and set a target of 247 runs in two sessions on the final day. Result? C Ganapathy and L Balaji, the seamers, shared nine wickets among themselves to bowl out HP for 155 from 47.4 overs. Karthik obviously had the last laugh. If you are really desperate to criticise Karthik, point out that he scored a duck in the second innings. No? Not strong enough for a comeback? Thought so.

Angry young man

Manoj Tiwary, Bengal's captain, landed himself in controversy when he lashed out against some of his team-mates. "It's time to bid goodbye to our reputation and play as a unit now in the present context. Instead of playing for individual goals, our players need to focus on the team goal." Bengal were embarrassed at home after Saurashtra enforced a follow-on with a 194-run first-innings lead.

Who was he talking about? The venerable lot at Press Trust of India reckoned he was targeting Sourav Ganguly and screamed with headline : "Bengal skipper Tiwary hits out at Ganguly."

When contacted by Cricinfo, Tiwary denied he had said anything against Ganguly. "It's absolutely wrong. I read it in the paper and was very angry at how they have twisted things. How can I dare say anything against a player who is a legend? It's unimaginable. In fact whenever he plays for Bengal, he adds such a presence that our whole team is lifted. Even yesterday while our team was batting after being asked to follow-on, I spent one and half hours talking to him."

So did he contact Ganguly to clear up things? "Yes, I spoke to him in the morning and he said no problem and that he doesn't believe in all this speculation in the media." So, all is cool in the eastern front. Well one hopes so.

A matter of honour

Sunil Joshi, Karnataka's bowling machine, is still chugging along merrily. Nineteen years after he made his debut, the 39-year old Joshi became the highest wicket taker for Karnataka, going past BS Chandrasekhar's tally of 437 wickets, when he got rid of Sajin Sureshnath. Joshi is also the fourth highest Ranji wicket-taker behind Rajinder Goel (637), S Venkatraghavan (530) and Narendra Hirwani (441). He had equalled Chandrasekhar's tally when he got the wicket of Rohit Motwani. He was just hit for a six by Motwani but exacted his revenge next ball and let out a scream. "Did I really scream? I guess it was just a reflex," he said later. "They (Motwani and Bawne) had been bothering us since lunch and when we got the breakthrough I perhaps let out my emotions." How long will he play? "I don't want to stop any youngster, but he should force me out with his performances," Joshi had told Cricinfo in a chat before and by the look of things the youngsters have been found wanting.

The 100-match man

Sitanshu Kotak, Mr. Fevicol of domestic cricket, played his 101st game this week. His 100th game was against Maharashtra at Rajkot in the last round of the games. Niranjan Shah, Hon. Secretary of Saurashtra Cricket Association, gave Kotak a silver salver for his achievement. "Bore kiya, lekin kaam to hua na?" he once drawled in his lovely Saurashtrian twang after playing yet another trademark stonewalling knock.

Don't chuck

You must have heard about how BCCI has been getting tougher on the bowlers with suspect actions. Another one has fallen into the spider web. Hyderabad's Lalith Mohan had just completed two overs in the first innings when the umpires told him that if he bowls again, they would no ball him. Lalith had a session with the coach Venkatapathy Raju and tried his luck in the second innings. Nice try but no luck. The umpires stopped him again after two overs and warned him again. And Lalith didn't bowl again. Pity for him, of course, but greater common good and all that jazz.

Thumbs down

Noticed that Shikhar Dhawan didn't bat in both innings as Delhi went down to Uttar Pradesh? 'Absent hurt' is the reason. The talented Delhi youngster injured his thumb while fielding and couldn't bat.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo