Stats Analysis

New records by new teams, and the misfortunes of Mumbai and Delhi

The numbers that defined the Ranji Trophy league phase, including individual accomplishments and the impressive performances by the sides in the Plate Group

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
The Mumbai players celebrate their 41st Ranji Trophy title, Mumbai v Saurashtra, Ranji Trophy 2015-16 final, Pune, February 26, 2016

Mumbai have not qualified for the Ranji knockouts for the first time in more than a decade  •  John Michel

After nine rounds and 153 matches, Ranji Trophy 2018-19 has its eight quarter-finalists - Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat from Elite Groups A and B, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh from Elite Group C, and Uttarakhand from the Plate Group. The 2018-19 season was one of the most closely contested so far, with the teams fighting until the last day to ensure their knockout spots. Here's a look at the group stages through the lens of numbers.
Mumbai's misery
This is the first time since 2007-08 that Mumbai have failed to reach the knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy. In 2007-08, they had finished third in their group and, with no quarter-finals in that edition, they lost out to Delhi and Saurashtra for a semi-final spot.
This time, however, there were no glasses that could have made Mumbai's situation look rosy. They managed just one win in eight games, and even that was consolatory, coming on the last day of the group stage. Their defeat by an innings and 145 runs against Vidarbha was their second-heaviest in the tournament's history.
One reason for their sub-standard performance was the unavailability of key players at various stages. Shreyas Iyer missed five games in total, first because he was on India A duty and then due to a stiff back, while pacers Shardul Thakur, Tushar Deshpande and Dhawal Kulkarni were nursing various injuries at different points. The absence of Ajinkya Rahane and Prithvi Shaw, who were in Australia, didn't help their cause either.
Dismal shows by Delhi, Tamil Nadu
Delhi, runners-up last season, also had a fate similar to Mumbai. With one win and three losses, Delhi finished at the bottom of Group B. They were mainly let down by their batsmen. Among the 18 teams from Groups A and B, their overall batting average of 25.69 was the fourth-lowest, while their century tally of four was equal to Himachal Pradesh (whose batting average was a much higher 29.30) and only better than Railways, who had three centuries.
Tamil Nadu, another powerhouse of Indian domestic cricket, had only two defeats against their name, but five draws didn't help their cause. And they had their bowling to blame for it. Tamil Nadu claimed 20 opposition wickets on only one occasion, one of two teams in Groups A and B - the other being Hyderabad - to do so.
In terms of bowling average, they were 15th with 35.15, and only Hyderabad had a worse strike rate than their 74.1.
With Bengal also failing to secure a quarter-final spot, this season is the first time since 1950-51 that all four - Mumbai, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Bengal - have failed to qualify for knockouts.
Pace v Spin
While Indian pitches have a reputation for being friendlier to spinners, pace led the way in the league stage. In fact in each of the last five seasons, pacers have outperformed spinners in terms of average. Spinners have had a better strike rate only once.
New teams, new records
Nine new teams were added this season, the majority first-timers and all of them in the Plate Group. That led to some mind-boggling numbers. Ashutosh Aman of Bihar broke Bishan Bedi's 44-year-old record of 64 wickets in a single season. A left-arm spinner like Bedi, Aman took 68 wickets from eight games at an average of 6.48, including nine five-wicket hauls and five ten-wicket hauls.
Among batsmen, Milind Kumar of Sikkim fell 84 short of breaking VVS Laxman's record for most runs in a season (1415 in 1999-00). Milind finished with 1331 runs at an average of 121.00 and a strike rate of 91.66. His six hundreds were the joint second-most in a season with Kedar Jadhav (in 2013-14), behind Laxman's eight in 1999-00 .
In fact, seven of the top ten run-scorers and five of the top ten wicket-takers were from the Plate group.
There were also four sub-50 team totals this season, two of them involving Plate teams. The last time there were as many sub-50 totals was 44 years ago, in 1974-75.
Other records
0 - Number of batsmen with a higher score on first-class debut than Ajay Rohera's 267 not out. Playing for Madhya Pradesh, Rohera broke Amol Muzumdar's record of 260.
1 - Pankaj Singh became the first seamer to take 400 Ranji wickets during his match haul of 8 for 52 for Puducherry against Manipur. Meanwhile, Jharkhand's Shahbaz Nadeem also went past 300 Ranji wickets.
6 - Hat-tricks taken so far, the most in a Ranji season. Jammu & Kashmir's Mohammed Mudhasir was the first one, taking four in four against Rajasthan, followed by Tamil Nadu's M Mohammed against Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand's Deepak Dhapola against Meghalaya, Nagaland's Tahmeed Rahman against Manipur, Saurashtra's Dharmendrasinh Jadeja against Maharashtra and Aman against Manipur. Previously, the most number of hat-tricks in a season was five - in 1963-64, when Joginder Rao alone claimed three hat-tricks.
7 - Ranji games played by Shubman Gill. He has at least one 50-plus score in each of those. In fact, in his nine first-class games so far, he has never failed to score at least a half-century.
108 - The number of Ranji Trophy games in which Jaydev Shah captained Saurashtra. No player in the tournament's history has more games as a captain. The streak ended only when Jaydev retired from all forms of the game midway through the tournament.
146 - Ranji Trophy appearances for Wasim Jaffer. He broke Devendra Bundela's record (145) of most Ranji games. Jaffer already holds the record for the most runs (11,501) and most hundreds (39) in the tournament's history.
351 - Dismissals for Naman Ojha. He went past Vinayak Samant's overall record (335) of most dismissals by a wicketkeeper in the Ranji Trophy.
357 - Target chased down by Rajasthan against Services. Only twice has a team chased a higher target in the tournament - 371 by Assam, also against Services, in 2008-09, and 360 by Rajasthan against Vidarbha in 1989-90.
826 - Meghalaya's total in the first innings against Sikkim - the joint fifth-highest in the Ranji Trophy.

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo