Ranji Round 1: Cricinfo looks at the highs and lows, the characters and controversies
Dada & deja vu
Some things never change. Sourav Ganguly continued his stormy relations with match officials, even at the domestic stage. Some would cite that as evidence that his passion still has not evaporated. The Ranji match against Punjab was building up to a thrilling climax when the umpire, S Ravindram, turned down one of Ganguly's demanding appeals. Dada ki baat sunenge na? Ravindram clearly had not seen that Ganguly advertisement. "There was lots of noise on the field and we got a bit excited," Ganguly said. "The match referee asked what had happened, but that was it." Rajo Pankule, the match referee, differed slightly. "We cautioned him as he had shown dissent but the issue is settled now." On the field Ganguly started his planned comeback to the national team with a fine allround performance; obviously he wasn't depending on the strength of his advertisements alone. Having failed with the bat in the first innings, he hit 43 in the second, the team's second highest score in a low-scoring game, and nicked a couple of wickets - adding to his three in the first - when Punjab were chasing 148. Along the way, the dissent and appointment with the match referee. All in four days' work for Sourav Ganguly.
Blast from the past
Another man plotting a comeback is Ashish Nehra. 40 overs for 88 runs, with just one wicket, against Tamil Nadu with the chief selector watching, one would have thought Nehra would be disappointed. But he's made of sterner stuff. "People are not here tojudge my talent , it's my fitness that I have to prove," he boomed. "Everyone knows what I can do." Er... right. Now if he can back that confidence with some wickets.
The case of bitter Goud
Hellish start for Karnataka. They were forced to take the field without their newly appointed captain Yere Goud. Reason? The lack of a No Objection Certificate (NOC), necessitated by his move from Railways to Karnataka and delayed by classic Indian red tape. Actually it was an extraordinary lapse even by Indian standards: Goud had been nominated the captain as far back as August, and had trained with the probables during their pre-season preparation. On the field Karnataka seemed to miss their captain. They were shot out for 85 in the first innings by Baroda and never recovered from there.
The gift that wasn't
Bengal eventually won that cliff-hanger against Punjab but not before conceding the first innings lead - and how. Punjab were 151 for 6, just five runs behind Bengal's first innings total, when two things happened simultaneously: On the one hand, Ranadeb Bose scythed though the tail with three quick wickets, on the other the Bengal bowlers conceded five extras, and with them the lead. Four no-balls, three from Ganguly, and a wide were gift-wrapped - though in the end Bengal snatched the gift back.
Parsimonious Saha and a champagne moment for Tripura
Tushar Saha obviously believes thrift is gift: He turned in a blinding spell of left-arm spin, 5 for 8 in 10.5 overs, the best figures by a Tripura bowler, against Jammu and Kashmir and, along with Vineet Jain, bowled his side to a famous win. Historic too; it was the second win for Tripura. Ever.
Talk to debutants Ravi Teja, M Vijay, Mani Vikram, and Ishant Sharma and watch them purr about their performances. Vijay and Vikram, who debuted for Tamil Nadu against Delhi, both scored half-centuries. Ishant Sharma, the tall Delhi fast bowler who grabbed a four-wicket haul, and Ravi Teja, the Hyderabad opener who racked up 84, tasted their first team success as well.
Veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Vijay Dahiya celebrated his return to first-class cricket after a year's sabbatical with a blistering 152 to propel Delhi to the vital first-innings lead against Tamil Nadu. A timely comeback, given that Delhi had conceded points to TN in their last three meetings.
The newly built Ch Bansi Lal Stadium at Rohtak saw its first hat-trick, courtesy Joginder Sharma of Haryana. The feat came in the last three balls of the 57th over, after he had knifed through the Andhra top order. First up was Chandramouli Prasad, followed by D Kalyankrishna (lbw) and Lakshman Kishore (bowled).
We don't have balls
The domestic season started off with a controversy over Kookaburra balls in the Duleep Trophy. The Indian board's decision to try out the Kookaburra balls during the Duleep Trophy was appreciated by the players - till match-time came around. No Kookaburra balls were provided when the teams practised before the games, requiring them to get used to the new cherry in match conditions. And the real bad news is that not one player that Cricinfo spoke to was surprised. The more things change, it seems, the more they remain the same...
Quote of the week
You simply can't beat Nehra's statement: "People are not here to judge my talent , it's my fitness that I have to prove. Everyone knows what I can do."