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Vidarbha have a new star, Nadeem strikes again, Vinay Kumar loses captaincy

Atharwa Taide celebrates a hundred Sri Lanka Cricket

Best batsmen

It was the best of three generations over the past week.

Eighteen-year-old Atharwa Taide, who was the second-highest run-scorer for India Under-19 in their Tests against Sri Lanka in July, broke into the Vidarbha squad for the first time and got a fifty on debut. He soon scored his first hundred - an unbeaten 148 against Himachal Pradesh in a losing cause. His effort was overshadowed by Ankush Bains, previously an Under-19 graduate himself, who struck an unbeaten 173 off 149 balls as Himachal chased down 298.

Bains' score was the top individual score in a week that included three 150-plus scores. One of those came from Gautam Gambhir - twice the age of Taide - who made 151 as Delhi piled on 392 for 3 while plundering Kerala by 165 runs. Gambhir averages 74.50 in four innings this season, and is striking at 116.86.

Still, he is 11th on the batting charts for the season so far, behind Himachal's Prashant Chopra (four fifties), Nagaland's KB Pawan (two fifties and a hundred), Tamil Nadu's B Indrajith (three fifties and a hundred) and Abhinav Mukund, who made a half-century in each of his last three games.

But the star of the last round was Baroda's Kedar Devdhar, who made scores of 44, 107 and 123 in three consecutive wins to help his team rise to third place in the Group A table. Devdhar built upon a decent last season in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, in which he made 274 runs in seven innings. He is currently the top-scorer in the tournament.

Best bowlers

Shahbaz Nadeem continued to boss the oppositions. Having begun the tournament with world-record figures of 8 for 10 in List A matches, Nadeem kept up the level with another five-wicket haul - 5 for 17 while defending 221 against Jammu & Kashmir, and remained the highest wicket-taker, with a tally of 19 from five games. Like Devdhar, all of Nadeem's performances led to victories for Jharkhand, who are leading Group C with five wins, no losses and an abandoned match.

The rest of the top performers were also left-arm spinners. Most notably, Krunal Pandya who took career-best figures of 6 for 41 against Goa, who were skittled for 148 in a chase of 282. Hyderabad's Mehdi Hasan took his maiden five-wicket haul in one-dayers: 5 for 20 against Uttar Pradesh who were bowled out for 130 in Delhi. He followed it up with 3 for 19 against Chhattisgarh and had an economy rate of 2.22 in the gameweek.

Tamil Nadu's mystery spinner Varun Chakravathi, who had taken 12 wickets in four games, picked up only three in his last two.

Other noteworthy performers during the week were Bihar's Keshav Kumar and Services' Arjun Sharma, who took eight wickets in three matches each.

Best matches

Madhya Pradesh and Odisha provided the closest game of the week in Delhi, with MP pulling off a one-run victory. Middle-order contributions had helped MP put on 277 before they were bowled out and they had Odisha at 159 for 5 with just over 18 overs to go. From that point, Abhishek Raut made an unbeaten 55 that brought Odisha to needing 10 off five balls. No. 10 Krishna Palai played a dot, and then the batsmen ran a bye. With nine needed off three balls, Raut had strike, but couldn't score off the fourth ball. He hit the next ball for six to bring up his fifty, but with three still required off the last ball, he only managed a single. The teams make up the bottom of the Group B table at the moment and the result didn't make a significant difference, but it was MP's first win of the season.

The other cliffhanger was between Nagaland and Puducherry. Chasing 203, Puducherry had slipped to 149 for 7 before a 50-run stand between two of their professionals, Paras Dogra (98*) and Pankaj Singh, dragged them close, and Dogra saw them through.

Players to watch

Indrajith's first-class and List A careers began much later than his twin brother B Aparajith's, who was the better rated of the two in junior cricket. But Indrajith's career has taken on a more rapid growth trajectory. Tamil Nadu's leader when Vijay Shankar is away, Indrajith is the second-highest run-scorer of the season and currently averages 52.14 in 26 List A games. Indrajith had been prolific in first-class cricket over the last few seasons, and as one of the seniors in TN cricket, he has made a successful transformation into limited-overs cricket.

How the newbies have done

Sikkim began their professional cricket career by being bowled out for 84, and after showing a few better batting performances, sunk to another low. They were pummeled by current table-toppers of the Plate Group, Bihar, on Sunday, being bowled out for 46 in a 292-run loss, the highest margin ever in Indian domestic cricket. The true extent of their struggles was reflected in the fact that they faced 31 overs to score those 46. They are, mathematically, the tournament's worst team, with no points and a negative net run rate of 2.765. Assam, who are also winless but got two points from an abandoned match, come close with a net run rate of -2.726.

At the other end of the table, Bihar registered three consecutive wins in the last week, and Uttarakhand won two in two. After their narrow loss against Puducherry, Nagaland fell behind Uttarakhand by four points and are in third place, while Puducherry's recently-depleted team sits fourth.

In the news

  • M Vijay and Washington Sundar have been named in Tamil Nadu's squad. Vijay had a productive stint with Essex following his axing from the Indian Test squad, while Sundar comes back from a long injury lay-off. He last played a competitive game on May 1 for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

  • Vinay Kumar was stripped off his captaincy after Karnataka's only points after four matches had come from an abandoned game. Manish Pandey was appointed in his place and he led Karnataka to a win immediately, against Vidarbha. In a radical shuffle, Karnataka also dropped veteran wicketkeeper-batsman CM Gautam.

  • Bihar's captain Pragyan Ojha will miss the remainder of the Vijay Hazare Trophy with a shoulder injury.