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Feature

Ranji Trophy first-round highlights: Nagaland's shocker, Tendulkar's ton, and Tamil Nadu's Bazball

N Jagadeesan and Ishan Kishan continue their form as the 19 games in the round produced 12 results

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
16-Dec-2022
Faiz Fazal opened his season with a century in each innings  •  PTI

Faiz Fazal opened his season with a century in each innings  •  PTI

The first round of the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy produced 12 outright results from 19 matches, including wins for Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh, finalists of the previous season. There were several thrills and spills, highs and lows, runs and records, all of which we have tried to encapsulate.

The shockers

Haryana were rolled over for 46 in a massive innings defeat to Himachal Pradesh in Lahli, renowned for being among the more seamer-friendly decks in the country. Puducherry's joy of bowling out Chhattisgarh for a paltry 162 dissipated quickly as they slumped to 37 all out in a massive loss, with left-arm spinner Ajay Mandal claiming unreal figures of 7 for 7 on a surface that observers called a rank turner.
Forty six and thirty seven... just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Nagaland were bundled out for 25 on the final day of their Elite League fixture against Uttarakhand. This is the second-lowest score in India's domestic cricket in the last 45 years just below Hyderabad's 21 all out in 2010-11 against Rajasthan. Staggeringly, Nagaland's batting low had followed a massive high, as they made 389 in the first innings to open up a 107-run lead.

The veterans lead by example

He is 37 and showing no signs of slowing down. Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal opened his season with a century in each innings to help his team beat Railways by 194 runs. Fazal made 112 in their first-innings score of 213, with his opposite number, legspinner Karn Sharma, picking up a career-best 8 for 38. Railways could only manage 161 in reply, their hopes of staying alive in the contest all but put to bed when Fazal slammed 103 to help Vidarbha pile on a big lead.
Priyank Panchal led Gujarat from the front to stage a remarkable recovery from 97 for 6 to post 271, but Tripura managed to pocket a slender lead and the resulting three points with the game ending in a draw. In Kolkata, Manoj Tiwary battled through to make an unbeaten 60 in the fourth innings as Bengal recovered from the depths of 97 for 7 on the opening morning to secure a comeback win against Uttar Pradesh. Bengal chased down 257 with six wickets in hand as Tiwary, leading in Abhimanyu Easwaran's absence, began his swansong with a win.
Sanju Samson, in his first first-class outing in close to three years, made a sprightly half-century in a first-innings score of 475, as Kerala opened with a win over Jharkhand. Ishan Kishan, his contemporary, made 132 to keep Jharkhand in the fight in the first innings, before they crumbled.

Debutants make a splash

Arjun Tendulkar has followed in the footsteps of his father, Sachin Tendulkar, by making a century on Ranji Trophy debut. Arjun's 120 from No. 7 helped Goa pile on the runs after Suyash Prabhudessai made 212 in their first-innings total of 547 for 9 declared. It was enough for Goa to out-bat Rajasthan for a first-innings lead.
Jay Gohil, the Saurashtra batter, made a double-century to help Saurashtra take the first-innings honours against Assam. Gohil, 22, made 227 off just 246 balls, with 32 fours and two sixes. Gohil only got the opportunity because Cheteshwar Pujara is currently away on national duty.
Sixteen-year-old Manipur fast bowler Pheiroijam Singh took a nine-for in his maiden first-class game, but it wasn't enough for his side to win. Sikkim, who took a narrow lead, chased down their 160-run target without much fuss in the second dig to win their Plate League match. Pheiroijam, who took 9 for 69 in the first innings, ended with a 10-for in the match.
In Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu's B Sai Sudharsan made 179 on debut which comes as excellent news to a team that is in transition from an era where they had prolific openers like Abhinav Mukund and M Vijay.

Tamil Nadu's version of Bazball

Okay, we know what Sai Sudharsan did, but let's cut to the chase. Late on the final day in the third session, Tamil Nadu were set a target of 144 in 11 overs. It had all the makings of a draw, right? TN thought differently. They went for broke and nearly chased down the runs. They were 108 for 1 in seven overs, needing only 36 off four more when bad light stopped play and the game ended in a draw.
N Jagadeesan, who is making a strong pitch to be part of the IPL again after years of being on the bench at Chennai Super Kings, made a 22-ball 59 not out in the second innings to go with his 97-ball 116 in the first. He is also coming off a record-breaking five back-to-back List A tons in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Honourable mentions

Sandeep Warrier and R Sai Kishore picked up five-wicket hauls for TN in a batter-dominated game
Shivam Mavi picked up 6 for 55 for UP, but Bengal's Ishan Porel had already stolen the pace-bowling thunder with his five-for on the opening day at Eden Gardens.
Maharashtra, without the prolific Ruturaj Gaikwad, made a potentially tough chase of 180 seem like a cake walk. They beat Delhi by nine wickets thanks to half-centuries from Pavan Shah and Kaushal Tambe.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo