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Ranji Trophy highlights: From Sarfaraz’s purple patch, Gani’s world record to Dhull’s scintillating debut

Seven elite group toppers — Bengal, Mumbai, Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand — made the cut directly to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals after the conclusion of the league round on Sunday.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: March 7, 2022 8:07:59 pm
Sarfaraz, Yash Shull, Sakibul Gani, Shams Mulani(From left) Sarafarz Khan, Yash Dhull, Sakibul Gani and Shams Mulani. (File)

The group stage of the Ranji Trophy has come to an end on Sunday with seven teams making the cut directly for the Ranji Trophy, while the winners between Jharkhand and Nagaland match will bag the final spot. The teams are Bengal, Mumbai, Karnataka, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The knockouts will be played in June after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2022).

Here are five key highlights from the group stage:

Sarfaraz Khan. Sarfaraz Khan will be reuniting his Under-19 teammate Rishabh Pant at the Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

Sarfaraz Khan’s big scoring spree

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There’s no stopping Sarfaraz Khan. The talented youngster finished the group stage with the leading run-scorer, he amassed 551 runs in four innings, including a 275 against the defending champions Saurashtra. Sarfaraz was the leading scorer among the batters from the elite group, second only to Bihar’s Sakibul Gani, who plays in the Plate group. In the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season, the middle-order batter smashed 928 runs in 6 matches with an average of 154.66.

What lies ahead: It took a long time and years of hard work for Sarfaraz Khan to find consistency and the ability to make big scores regularly. He seems to have reached that stage. He will definitely be on the selector’s radar and will be reuniting his Under-19 teammate Rishabh Pant at the Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

Yash Dhull Yash Dhull is the second leading run-getter among the batters from the elite group behind Sarfaraz Khan, and fifth overall.

Yash Dhull, a star is born

After leading India to their fifth Under-19 World Cup earlier this month, Yash Dhull began his senior career with a century in each innings of his Ranji Trophy debut. The 19-year-old followed his 113 against Tamil Nadu with an unbeaten 113 on Sunday. He is only the third Indian — after Nari Contractor for Gujarat in 1952/53 and Virag Awate for Maharashtra in 2012/13 — to score a hundred in each innings on his Ranji Trophy debut. He followed with a second innings double hundred against Chhattisgarh in the last match. Dhull is the second leading run-getter among the batters from the elite group behind Sarfaraz Khan, and fifth overall.

What lies ahead: The Delhi batter has already set his goals to play for senior India in two years. However, Delhi coach Raj Kumar Sharma feels that the youngster should be fast-tracked into the Indian team. Dhull, too, is going to be one of the favourites for the next India A series. Meanwhile, he will be playing for Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

Sakibul Gani Sakibul Gani scored 341 off 405 balls to enter the Ranji Trophy record books (Source: Wisden India/Twitter)

Record-breaking Sakibul Gani

Bihar’s Sakibul Gani waltzed into the record books, becoming the first player in the history of the game to score a triple century on his first-class debut. Gani, son of a farmer from Bihar’s Motihari district, scored 341 off 405 balls, hitting 56 fours and two sixes, in the Plate Group Ranji Trophy fixture against Mizoram at the Jadavpur University Campus ground in Kolkata. The Bihar batter is leading the run charter with 601 runs in five innings.

What lies ahead: Sadly, Gani’s season is over. With Bihar not qualifying from the Plate Group and no IPL contract, the 22-year-old will be back home with a determination to come back all guns blazing in the next season.

Shams Mulani steps up for Mumbai

Mumbai all-rounder Shams Mulani was Mumbai’s leading wicket-taker in the 2019-20 season. He continued his dream run by taking a whopping 29 wickets in the league stages, including three consecutive five-wicket hauls, four overall. As a result, he is topping the wicket-takers chart in the Ranji Trophy.

What lies ahead: Mulani finds no takers in the IPL mega auction. The pacer might get a chance to become a net bowler for one of the IPL teams as the tournament is being held in Mumbai. He will be eager to add a few more wickets to his tally when the knockouts will be played.

Team Jharkhand

Jharkhand was hammered by Chhattisgarh by eight wickets in their first match. Thereafter, Jharkhand made a remarkable comeback by winning the next two in closely-contested ties. Jharkhand defeated Delhi by 15 runs in the last over of the match on Day 4. In the next match against Tamil Nadu, the game again went down to the wire. Jharkhand chased down the tricky target of 214 with two wickets to spare. Group E toppers Uttarakhand and Jharkhand (group H) finished with 12 points each but the former with a better run-rate quotient of 1.424 advanced into the quarters directly.

What lies ahead: Jharkhand will face Plate toppers Nagaland in a one-off pre-quarterfinal here from March 12.


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