Ranji Trophy Super League, 7th round January 15, 2007

Sightscreens, pitch tampering, and more ruckus

Round-up of the seventh round matches of the 2006-07 Ranji Trophy Super League

Shiv Sundar Das got a bouncer from the matchreferee. Fined 25% for moving the sightscreen too much! © Getty Images
Shifting the sightscreen is injurious to your wallet
Ask Shiv Sunder Das. He had asked for the screen to be moved a few times while batting. The umpires must have got tired. Definitely, the match referee Raju Mukherjee was irritated and slapped Das with a fine of 25% of his match fee! An opposition batsman from Assam also expressed surprise at the decision. It was a swift comedown for Das, who'd been awarded Rs 30,000 (US$680 approx) by his association for scoring a triple century in the last game.

When the horse was tripped
It was Sridharan Sharath's last game. Five runs were needed for a win and the great servant of Tamil Nadu cricket was probably hoping for a fitting ride into the sunset when the fatal finger of the umpire intervened. He padded away an offbreak outside the off stump and was shocked when he was given out. Out for a duck, following the tradition set by you-know-who.

Don't dress up the wicket please
The Assam Cricket Association lodged a strong protest with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) alleging that the Barabati pitch, where Assam played and lost the semi-final game against hosts Orissa, was tampered with. ACA secretary Bikash Baruah said that officials and players of Assam had found out, before the start of the fourth day's play on Saturday, that the pitch had gone through some dressing and tempering. The grass from some areas of the wicket had been shaved off and the cracks in the good-length region were filled up with clay. "The team members immediately reported the matter to the match officials," Baruah said. "The state team went to play only after submitting a written protest. Later, we sent a formal complaint to the BCCI."

Recapturing the fort
Orissa's re-entry to the Elite group, which they'd left in 2003-04, didn't come easy. After forfeiting the vital first-innings lead by an agonising two-run deficit, they rallied through the seamers, Debhasis Mohanty and Sukant Khatua, who shared seven wickets between them, to blow away Assam for 120. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh also stormed into the Elite group. Getting there was tough; staying on will be tougher.

A proud old man
Rasiklal Makvana, the curator of the track at Rajkot, where Saurashtra hosted Karnataka, must be a happy man. Having switched from dousing flames as an officer of the fire brigade to watering the wicket, he would have been over the moon the day his elder son Kamlesh dismissed Rahul Dravid. Kamlesh tossed one up at Dravid, who missed making contact while attempting a sweep shot and was trapped in front. More joy in store for the family as the second son, Vipul, is hotting up the under-19 circuit.

Dream debut

Pritam Das, the fastest bowler Assam has ever produced, bagged a five-for on debut against Orissa. The highlight for Das (18) was when he cleaned up the man in form Shiv Sunder Das. And to think he wouldn't even have played the game had Abu Nachim not trotted off to play for India U-19.

Filling up the plate
We know that Robin Uthappa is the leading run-scorer with a massive 831 runs and Cheteshwar Pujara is on second with 595 but who's leading the Plate group? J Arunkumar, former Karnataka captain who's playing for Assam, is the man, with 569 runs.

Former Andhra captain dead
R V V K. Prasad passed away following a cardiac arrest at the age of 60. His son RV Ch Prasad now plays for Andhra. The legacy lives on.

A plug for domestic cricket ...
Comes from Robin Uthappa. "Obviously when you do well in under-19 cricket for India you are keen to make it to the next level and you want to play for India," he told Cricinfo in an interview. But you learn a lot playing domestic cricket. The initial years are often tough for a cricketer, getting to know your team-mates, you learn all those small points that make a huge difference. All that plays a big role. Once you play more and more cricket you learn about your game and learn to analyse it yourself, to the point that you don't have to run to your coach at the end of each game. Playing domestic cricket brings out the maturity of a player and shows his class."

The usual Nehra corner
"The last World Cup was four years ago. Now it's 2007. I played in the 1987 World Cup, 1983 and 1979 also. Will you pick me?" Dilip Vengsarkar sends ripples of laughter when asked why Ashish Nehra wasn't included in the World Cup probables based on his exploits in the 2003 edition. !

Sriram Veera is editorial assistant of Cricinfo