There were quite a few international stars playing for their respective teams but not one managed to come up with something special. However, the likes of Milind Kumar, Mohammed Mudhasir, Abrar Kazi and few other domestic players set the stage on fire to get the season rolling. There were three double hundreds, two hat-tricks, few face masks and a couple of off the field incidents that made the first round of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy entertaining. Oh, and also, a total of 94 players made their first-class debut.
Cricketnext takes a look back at the Round One of Ranji Trophy:
Mixed outings for India stars
Cheteshwar Pujara turned out for Saurashtra against Chhattisgarh but batted in only one innings due to a sore neck. Pujara was on 30 when he was forced out but did return to add 26 runs more to his tally.
Tamil Nadu's R Ashwin bowled 38.4 overs against Madhya Pradesh to finish with four wickets, while M Vijay could only manage 19 runs. Meanwhile, both Hanuma Vihari (19) and Parthiv Patel (25) got good starts but couldn't convert it into something substantial.
All of these five players are in the Indian Test squad that will travel to Australia for the four-match series.
Milind Kumar: Sikkim's one-man army
Having been reduced to 15 for 5 on Day 1 against Manipur, Sikkim needed something + someone extraordinary to pull them out of the woods, and that's what Milind Kumar did. Milind smashed an astonishing 261 out of Sikkim's first innings score of 372, which is 70% of his side's total. However, 75 years ago in December 1943, great Vijay Hazare made 309 for the Rest against the Hindus in the final of the Bombay Pentangular of 1943-44. His team were dismissed for 387, which means a whopping 79.84% of the total came from Hazare.
Coming back to Milind, who hit a century on his debut for Delhi in 2011, was left out of the Ranji squad for this season. He was told that he will be kept on standby, and that's when he got a call from Sikkim Cricket Association. Out of his 261, 202 came on a single day which also impressed former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. The 27-year-old smacked 39 fours and three sixes during his stay in the middle.
Sikkim initially had been reluctant to hire outstation professionals but after they failed to win a single match in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy, the state hired Milind, Gujarat's Ishwar Chaudhary and Bipul Sharma, who has earlier played for Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The trio contributed heavily in this match and helped Sikkim thrash Manipur by an innings and 27 runs. Apart from his handy 45, left-arm spinner Bipul also scalped seven wickets in the match, while right-arm fast-medium Chaudhary too took the same number of wickets.
Meanwhile, domestic heavyweight Yashpal Singh, who played for Tripura last season, is captaining Manipur this year. The 36-year-old hit an unbeaten 132 in the second innings but couldn't save his team from an embarrassing defeat.
Hat-tricks for Mohammeds
Two pacers named Mohammed from the northern most and southern most states of the country bagged hat-tricks on the second day of round one.
Jammu & Kashmir's Mohammed Mudhasir became only the second bowler in the history of Ranji Trophy to pick up four wickets in four deliveries. Delhi's Sankar Saini was the first person to achieve the feat in 1988 against Himachal Pradesh. Mudhasir dismissed Chetan Bist, Tajinder Singh Dhillon, Rahul Chahar and Tanvir Mashart Ul-Haq in four consecutive deliveries in the 99th over and became the first player from his state to pick up a hat-trick. The right-arm seamer completed the set via LBW dismissals; the first such instance in the first-class history. He returned figures of 5 for 90.
Despite Mudhasir's heroics, J&K lost the match by 75 runs, courtesy Chetan Bist's 159 in the first innings, Rahul Chahar's 9 for 148 and Nathu Singh's 4 for 122. This was Nathu Singh's first Ranji game since October 2016. Irfan Pathan only managed scores of 14 and 35 and went wicketless in his first Ranji outing for J&K.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu's M Mohammed became the sixth bowler from his state to claim a hat-trick in this tournament. He got rid of Yash Dubey, Rajat Patidar, only after he scored 196, and Mihir Hirwani in successive balls. Madhya Pradesh were bundled out for 393 runs but Tamil Nadu had to wait for almost two days to get a proper knock. Baba Indrajith, who was appointed as the skipper, commenced his season with a century as the match ended in a lackluster draw with both teams sharing a point each.
Lad junior vs Lad senior
Mumbai's crisis-man Siddhesh Lad might have missed out on his seventh first-class hundred by just one run but the 26-year-old would be really happy that he got to showcase his skills to his father Dinesh Lad, who was hired by India Railways to be an observer for their side. In the process, Siddhesh also went past the 3000-run mark in first-class cricket. He hit 76 in the second innings as well.
Mumbai collected three points on the basis of the first-innings lead with Lad, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dubey, Tushar Deshpande and Aditya Tare all chipping in. Dubey notched up his maiden first-class ton in only his second match. Meanwhile, Deshpande, who missed out on the last season, continued his superb Vijay Hazare Trophy form by registering his best innings bowling analysis - 6 for 70.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Harsh Tyagi, who was Man-of-the-match in the Under-19 Asia Cup final, picked up seven wickets and scored 39 off 142 deliveries for Railways in his first-debut.
Smog sees return of face masks
The poor air quality in Delhi forced some players from Mumbai and Railways to play with the face masks. Mumbai batsman Siddhesh batted with a protective face mask on the opening day.
“Tushar (Deshpande) is not feeling well. He has been vomiting and complaining of headache and fever since he arrived in Delhi,” Mumbai coach Vinayak Samant told reporters.
This comes almost a year after when Sri Lankan players wore masks during a Test against India due to heavy smog in the city. In 2016, the Board of Control for Cricket in India had to cancel two Ranji Trophy encounters due to similar conditions.
Not-so-great start for defending champions
Vidarbha, who surprised everyone by winning the Ranji Trophy last season, didn't have a great start to the competition as they gifted three points to Maharashtra. In reply to Maharashtra's first innings total of 343, Vidarbha were bowled out for mere 120. Vidarbha, however, fought back well in the second innings on the back of Faiz Fazal's 131, Akshay Wadkar 122*, Wasim Jaffer's 63 and Aditya Sarwate's 60.
"We don't want to prove to anyone. We want to prove to ourselves. We won the Ranji Trophy because we played really well. Ranji Trophy can't be won in a fluke" - Fazal, the Vidarbha skipper, told Cricketnext ahead of the tournament, and hopefully their performance in the second essay will give them confidence for the coming matches.
Wasim Jaffer: The marathon man
The 40-year old is featuring in his 22nd Ranji season. Since his debut in 1996/97, he has only missed the 2016-17 edition. However, the record for appearing in the most number of Ranji seasons is 29 by Chandrasekhar Sarwate (1936/37-1968/69). Jaffer made scores of 27 and 63 in this match. He is now only seven appearances away from breaking now-retired Devendra Bundela's all-time Ranji record of 145 games.
Abrar Kazi schools Mizoram
Kazi, who shifted his base from Karnataka to Nagaland this season, scored his maiden double century and also picked up nine wickets in the match to help his team demolish Mizoram by an innings and 333 runs - biggest winning margin by a debutant in terms of innings victory. This is also the 12th biggest win in the history of the competition. Making his first-class debut for Karnataka in the 2013-14 season, Kazi only featured in nine games for the state.
Akshdeep Nath - Uttar Pradesh's new commander
Nath, who was appointed as the captain of Uttar Pradesh, couldn't have asked for a better start to their campaign. He himself scored 194 and got solid support from Mohammad Saif (126) and Priyam Garg (117*). This is only the sixth time three Uttar Pradesh batsmen have scored centuries in an innings. The 19-year-old pace sensation Shivam Mavi claimed five wickets in his debut match as Uttar Pradesh thrashed Goa an innings and 247 runs.
Debutants shine in Punjab's opener
Mayank Markande, who was added to India’s 15-man squad for Emerging Teams Asia Cup, took a five-wicket haul in his very first game for Punjab. He also made an unbeaten 68 in the first innings. Another debutant Sanvir Singh scored 110, while Shubman Gill scored fifties in both the innings. This was Mandeep Singh's first four-day game as captain for Punjab. Despite all the efforts, Andhra rode on Ricky Bhui's 181 to pip Punjab's first innings total of 414 by nine runs and take three crucial points.
Rajasthan's Robin Bist went past 6000 runs in first-class cricket, while Himachal Pradesh's Prashant Chopra, Odisha's Biplab Samantray and Hyderabad's Bavanaka Sandeep crossed the 3000-run mark.
Bishal Ghosh (201 vs Services) became only the third batsman from Tripura to score a double hundred in Ranji Trophy, with Yogesh Takawale (212 vs Hyderabad) and Vinayak Samant (200* vs Vidarbha) being the other two.
Manisankar Murasingh picked up seven wickets for 53 runs against Services - fourth best for Tripura in Ranji. Timir Chanda took 8 for 133 against Himachal Pradesh in 2011-12.
Assam's paceman Ranjit Mali went past 100 wickets in Ranji Trophy.
Priyank Panchal, who had a remarkable 2016-17 season but failed to replicate it in 2017-18, started this edition with a century as Gujarat raced to a nine-wicket win over Baroda.
Social media watch
The victorious Uttar Pradesh team pose for a group picture.
| Akshdeep Nath 194 , Mohammad Saif -126, Priyanka Garg 117* & Madhav Kaushik 92 |
| Ankit Rajpoot 5/41 & 2/53, Saurabh Kumar 4/55 & 2/19, Shivam Mavi 4/25 & 1/34 | pic.twitter.com/l4xkJF3LYA
— UPCA (@UPCACricket) November 4, 2018
Welcome to the big league!
Sikkim wins their first ever Ranji Match with an innings and 27 runs.#Cricket #SikkimCricketAssociation #CricketInSikkim #RanjiTrpohy #IndianDomesticLeague #Sikkim #NortheastIndia pic.twitter.com/Lt69R9EBQi — Sikkim Cricket Association (@sikkim_cricket) November 3, 2018
What a year this has been for Mayank Markande.
January 2018 - List-A debut
February 2018 - T20 debut
April 2018 - IPL debut
November 2018 - First-class debut
What an year it has been. Thank you @jiwanjotsingh24 for presenting me with my first cap. #RanjiTrophy pic.twitter.com/UV0QrOJdeK
— Mayank Markande (@MarkandeMayank) November 1, 2018
Highest match aggregate: Rajasthan v Jammu and Kashmir in Jaipur (1,121)
Highest innings total: Uttar Pradesh – 564 for 4 declared (v Goa)
Highest run-getter: Milind Kumar – 261 runs
Highest wicket-taker: Abrar Kazi – 9 wickets
Highest individual score: Milind Kumar (261 off 331 balls v Manipur)
Best bowling figures in an innings: Manisankar Murasingh (7 for 53 for Tripura v Services)
Best bowling figures in a match: Abrar Kazi (9 for 29 for Nagaland v Mizoram)
Most dismissals by a wicketkeeper: Rohit Motwani – 6 (Catches: 6, Stumpings: 0)
Highest partnership: Akshdeep Nath and Priyam Garg: 250 (for the fourth-wicket for Uttar Pradesh v Goa)
Total debutants: 94
Total bonus-point wins: 4
Total three-day finishes: 3
Total two-day finishes: 1
Cheteshwar PujaraIndiaMayank MarkandeMilind Kumarmohammed mudhasirR AshwinRanji Digestranji trophyranji trophy 2018Siddhesh Ladwasim jaffer
First Published: November 5, 2018, 1:05 PM IST