Unlikely double-centurions, and Murtaza's all-round heroics
- In the eighth round of this Ranji Trophy season, five out of 12 matches produced decisive results, with wins for Gujarat, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Vidarbha and Kerala. Punjab, the group A leaders, suffered their second defeat of the season, despite which they finished on top with 32 points from their eight matches. In 96 matches in this season so far, 38 have produced decisive results, while 58 have been drawn.
- The eighth round was a better one for bowlers than the previous ones: the runs per wicket in this round was 29.03, compared to 33.60 in the previous seven rounds. Eighteen hundreds were scored in this round, while 155 had been scored in the previous seven (an average of 22 per round). There were also 12 five-fors in this round, taking the overall tally for this season to 103. The strike rate improved to 60.2 balls per wicket, from 70 in the previous seven rounds.
- The two highest scores in this round came from No.9 and No.7 batsmen, in the same match, as Haryana's Jayant Yadav and Amit Mishra scored double-hundreds against Karnataka in Hubli. Yadav made 211 while Mishra was unbeaten on 202. Among the bowlers, Ali Murtaza's 7 for 80, against Tamil Nadu, were the best figures of the round - he also scored a century and took ten wickets in the match. Among those who took five-fors was Zaheer Khan, whose 5 for 79 in the second innings helped Mumbai eke out a seven-run win against Madhya Pradesh in Indore. (Click here for the list of highest run-getters, and here for the list of leading wicket-takers, in the Ranji Trophy season so far.)
- The batting highlight of this round was the 392-run eighth-wicket stand between Mishra and Yadav, against Karnataka in Hubli. Coming in to bat at an uncomfortable 168 for 7, they turned the tables on the home team with that stunning partnership which completely shut Karnataka out of the match. Coming into this match, Mishra's highest first-class was 84, and Yadav's 66. Here, though, both scored double-hundreds, and their partnership is the highest for the eighth wicket in Ranji Trophy history. It's the second-highest for that wicket in any first-class match, next only to the 433-run stand between Arthur Sims and Victor Trumper in a match between Canterbury and the Australians way back in 1914.
- Karnataka were so numbed by that onslaught that they collapsed for 272 in their first innings, with only Kunal Kapoor batting more than two hours. He scored 106 in that innings, and then followed that with an unbeaten 100 in the second, thus becoming the first batsman from Karnataka to score a century in each innings in Ranji Trophy.
- The all-round performance of the round - and indeed the season - came from Uttar Pradesh's Murtaza: he scored 106 in the first innings, and then took 7 for 80 and 3 for 62 - match figures of 10 for 142 - as Tamil Nadu were thrashed by 195 runs in Chennai. It's the first time in five years that a player has scored a century and taken ten in a match in a Ranji Trophy game: the last player before Murtaza to do so was Baroda's Yusuf Pathan - he scored 183 and took 10 for 119 against Bengal in Vadodara in 2007. Murtaza is the third player from Uttar Pradesh to achieve this feat, after Praveen Kumar and Anand Shukla.
- Of the 18 centuries scored in this round, six were by openers, but only one of them batted through an entire team innings and remained unbeaten: Mumbai's Kaustubh Pawar scored 111 not out, out of Mumbai's total of 304 against Madhya Pradesh in Indore. He is only the second opener from Mumbai to carry his bat through an innings in a Ranji Trophy game, after Madhav Mantri, who scored an unbeaten 64 out of a team score of 229 against Gujarat in 1951.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter