The Indian domestic season in December threw up few fresh names for the Ray-Ban domestic ratings. No new star blazed his way across the cricketing skies; instead, the list of the top six in both batting and bowling categories feature names that made it big in November as well.
The positions, of course, have interchanged (Click here for the top 25 batsmen), and heading the batting list is 21-year-old middle-order Services player Yashpal Singh. Starting the current first-class season with scores of 240 and 67* against Tripura, Yashpal - ranked fourth after November - is a youngster who thrives on big scores.
In December, Singh smashed yet another big hundred against Saurashtra, scoring 162 in the first innings and 40 in the second. Thus far, Yashpal has amassed 659 runs at an average of 82.37 in the domestic season; two big hundreds and three half-centuries in nine innings are eloquent testimony to the kind of form he is in. Those big centuries and fifties have helped Yashpal Singh build a commanding lead over second-placed Ambati Rayadu.
The choicest bowling honours in the Ray-Ban ratings (Click here for the top 25 bowlers) goes to the 25-year-old right-arm off-spinner from Goa, Faisal Shaikh. Shaikh, who scraped into the top six after November's play, is reaping rich dividends after his move to Goa from Mumbai - for which he made one appearance in the 1997-98 season.
Shaikh has been at the forefront of Goa's resurgence this season, and in his five Ranji Trophy games he has picked up 35 wickets at an average of 20.40. In doing so, Shaikh successfully edged out Narendra Hirwani as the topper, helped hugely by a nine-wicket innings haul (20.4-7-29-9) against Services in Delhi, one of three five-wicket hauls already this season.
Hirwani maintains his position in the top six, though; the veteran leg-spinner comes in at second, followed by Tamil Nadu paceman L Balaji. Considering that Balaji has been racking up five-wicket hauls like nobody's business, it is perhaps surprising that he is not higher than third, but Shaikh's dizzying peaks have given him a lead of almost 160 points.