Barring Ajinkya Rahane, most of the India’s Test batsmen made the best use of their Ranji outings ahead of the Sri Lanka series. The seamers too performed reasonably well, though the middling returns of their prime spinners, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, is a cause of concern
Runs: 437 in five innings
His tally included a record-breaking double century and a 182. Pujara has begun this season in ominous form. After a torrid spell in England, his seven innings begetting 110 runs, it was vital he got some runs ahead of the Sri Lanka series, and he did exactly that, scoring runs gluttonously and helping his team extend its stay at the top of the pool. He scored only 51 runs in his first three outings, but the next three fetched him 389 runs.
Runs: 210 in four innings
Having missed the Sri Lanka tour due to a fractured thumb, it was imperative that Murali Vijay got going in the Ranji Trophy. He began with a four and 55 in the opening match against Andhra. By his own admission, he was rusty. The next outing, against Mumbai, didn’t yield the desired returns either, but a featherbed in Cuttack ended his century-drought, which dates back to February 2017. He scored a masterful 140, after which he said he was “almost” back to his best.
Runs: 128 in four innings
It was frustrating times for Rahul after the Tests in Sri Lanka. He struggled to get going in the ODIs and subsequently, was overlooked for the short-form series against Australia and New Zealand. But he vented out all his frustration in his last innings before the Sri Lanka series. The 109-ball 92 against Delhi, though it didn’t really impact the match and was on a belter in Alur, reiterated that he has regained his touch and is in fine “mental space” before the Kolkata Test.
Runs: 94 in four innings
By his standards, he was underwhelming in both his Ranji outings this season, wherein he perished twice without scoring and as many times in the 40s. However, his 45 in the second innings was vital in eating up time and setting the tone for Mumbai’s gallant rearguard against Baroda. He, though, was in reasonable form in the ODIs against Australia.
Runs: 230 in 7 inns, Catches: 20
He was at his doughty best in the second innings against Vidarbha, which though didn’t help his team avert a defeat. But otherwise, he couldn’t make much of an impact – there was a hard-fought 55 against Services – in what is unfolding to be a disastrous season for Bengal. He, though, was quite busy behind the stumps in the four matches he played.
Wickets: 15 in 3 Matches
The tall pacer seems to have got what he needed going into the Test series. Leading Delhi in three of the matches, Ishant was among the wickets in every game, scalping a five-for against Assam. In the close contest against Uttar Pradesh, he led from the front capturing three wickets in each innings. He also had a three-wicket haul against Railways.
Wickets: 10 in 3 matches, Runs: 258 in 4 inns
He was in top form against J&K, scoring a double century and taking seven wickets. But Jadeja’s returns tapered off in the next two matches – against Jharkhand and Gujarat. He was his usual miserly self on most occasions, but was dominated by Jharkhand in the first innings. He did not contribute much with the bat either.
Wickets: 11 in 3 Matches
Shreyas Iyer took him to the cleaners in the Mumbai match, and Ashwin was not his dominant self in the other matches either. He managed just two wickets against Tripura. His best in the three matches was a four-wicket haul against Andhra, in which the latter gave the favourites a scare on the final day. Ashwin as taken for 92 runs in 16 second innings over. He has not had any significant scores with the bat either.
Wickets: 18 in 3 Matches
The Bengal paceman led the attack admirably and showed good speed and rhythm. He broke open the game against HP and helped his team to a victory over Chhattisgarh with a six-wicket haul. Shami seems to be in good form leading up to the series against SL, and the overseas Tests in South Africa.
Wickets: 9 in 2 Matches
The speedster played just two matches in the Ranji Trophy. He got three wickets in each innings against Chhattisgarh, but could not prevent the Ranji newcomers from taking the first innings lead. Vidarbha thrashed Services in the next match, but Umesh’s contribution was modest. Akshay Wakhare was the star.