They can still make it. Zaheer, slow and aging, has got the season's highest run-scorer, Harshad Khadiwale, in a tight spot, and Harshad can't move his feet, or get bat to ball. First time Maharashtra Central are facing quality bowling.
Jadhav has been so, so good this season.
Been ages since Mumbai have been this weak, wish Tendulkar had decided to play on a bit more.
Glad to see Mumbai out of the way. Was bound to happen when you have Indulkar replacing Tendulkar! Time for new champions :)
Jadhav is an outstanding batsman.
VRV Singh seems to be getting back to his best, he was the most promising pace bowler in the country at one point of time but went on a downward spiral after the first time he got selected in the team on Greg Chappell's recommendation. Chappell had a lot of faith in him. A series of injuries meant he lost his pace and didn't look the same even when he was selected again and got chances to play a few games for India.
The captaincy of the Mumbai side was poor. Didn't attack enough, and were just playing for a draw that would never happen. Strange, given that Zaheer is the captain of Mumbai. He can take a break from chasing any more India games and try to help Mumbai win their next title.
That point on Chappell recommending him is noteworthy- Chappell went about recruiting several youngsters way before they were ready into the national side. He too was way too raw for the big stage, and that may have harmed him a lot more than it was supposed to help. I hope that policy of getting youngsters into the Indian team at a very early age is junked forever. Let Sandeep Sharma, Vijay Zol and Samson complete five seasons in FC cricket before getting their first India cap.
Meanwhile, the Railways-Bengal match has even more bad blood than their previous encounter. First, there's a controversy involving a ball change, and officials allege the Railwaymen tampered with the ball. Abhay Sharma, Railways coach, blames it on the steel barricades. Then, some sadistic Bengal fans repeatedly heckled some Railwaymen, including Murali Kartik, and that got Anureet Singh's goat, and he almost lynched them. Anureet, anyway, is closing in on Rishi Dhawan's top spot in the wickets tally, with at least one game in hand. Kartik, though, is being a thorn in the flesh of the Bengal team and its fans, now opening the innings and having some success in taking his team closer to victory. He's now a subject of jokes of the Alok Nath kind on Cricinfo's live Ranji blog.
Just checkout the video from 3.18, VRV was just awesome at that time.
We want that VRV back if he has to play for India again. Why, even domestic cricket will need that VRV back.
Group C stereotypes- It came to a point where disgruntled Gujarat/Saurashtra/TN fans said that Group C teams lower the standard of the knockouts, and should not play. This, from the point that Group C players have never faced tough opposition and should not play for India. Now, a Group C team (Maharashtra) has defeated Mumbai in the quarters, and a better team, J&K, scared Punjab. That's made a case for them to play the quarters, but will it be enough for Kedar, Harshad, Rasool and Rishi Dhawan to make the Indian team? Kedar has a very good chance, and should play ahead of Yuvraj and Raina, but Harshad looked weak against an aging Zaheer, Rasool's bowling form was a little off early, and Rishi's, dipped outside Dharamshala, a seamer's paradise, in the flatter South.
My solution, though, will be a more equitable distribution of teams, and scrapping the promotion/relegation idea, so that quality is maintained across the event, while exposure to quality is granted to weaker states. However, the next round should be decided on an all-India rating across all groups, not just a specific group. And, of course, scrap knockouts for the title, and replace with a Super Eights, where one team faces three others (up to you how to put that together).
What I am concerned about is that the new trend of preparing greentops for Ranji games is producing green-top bullies who lose the plot when there isn't enough grass on the pitch, or the batsmen get set.
We talk about people like Pankaj Singh and Ranadeb Bose, but this guy was way ahead of them as a bowler along with 5 FC centuries to his name and many other good batting performances.
Bengal win- It was smooth sailing, until Laxmi Ratan Shukla took three wickets that shook up, and consequently, tripped Railways, as Bengal made it to the semis. Dinda was bowling plenty of short ones, but Paul moved the ball smartly to get a few edges, and two wickets. Bengal also dropped four catches after lunch, but were firmly in control by that time. Good to see Shukla chip in with wickets, but maybe too little, too late, as an India prospect, but still good news for Bengal.
It's hardly all doom and gloom on the spin front, as we've seen good performances by Jalaj Saxena, Amit Yadav, Vishal Dabholkar, Rakesh Dhurv, and in patches by Parvez Rasool, Iqbal Abdulla, Yusuf Pathan, S Gopal and Harbhajan Singh. What is most surprising, though, is that Ashish Nehra has taken nearly five wickets a match, with a haul of 28 wickets in six games, and has a very good strike rate. India's frontline team may not need him now, but Delhi, North Zone and the Indian domestic scene as a whole does.
The Ranji Performer XI is largely unchanged, but for one Railwayman coming in
Mahesh Rawat unlucky to miss out.
- SS Tiwary
- Naman Ojha (WK)
- Rishi Dhawan (RM)
- Jalaj Saxena (OB)
- Vishal Dabholkar (SLA)
- Anureet Singh (RM)
- Pankaj Singh (RMF)