New Delhi: The Ranji Trophy 2016-17 season has reached its knock-out stage and eight teams will slog it out in the quarter-finals to earn the right to enter the semis.
Usual suspects Mumbai, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Haryana have made it to the last eight while surprise packages Gujarat, Jharkhand, Odisha and a rejuvenated Hyderabad side under the tutelage of former India bowling coach Bharat Arun are in the mix too.
Here's CricketNext's list of Top 5 players to watch out for in the quarter-finals:
1) Priyank Panchal (Gujarat): The 26-year old is the only batsman to have scored more than thousand runs this season. Panchal, who opens the batting for Gujarat, has scored 1037 runs in seven matches at an average of 115.22. Panchal played an instrumental role in the two victories that propelled Gujarat into the quarters, and has four centuries to his name so far. His unbeaten 314 against Punjab has been one of the stand-out knocks this season.
2) Shadab Nadeem (Jharkhand): With 39 wickets from eight matches this season, the left-arm spinner has been the guiding force behind Jharkhand's entry into the knock-outs. Jharkhand were the stand out team in Group B with 5 victories and Nadeem played a stellar role in all these matches. His 12-wicket haul against Rajasthan has been the performance of his first class career so far. It remains to be seen if he can surpass his tally of 51 wickets, that he picked up last season.
3) Nitin Saini (Haryana): Haryana take on an upbeat Jharkhand in the quarters and they would need their highest run-getter Saini to fire in this match. Wicket-keeper batsman Nitin Saini is a seasoned customer in the domestic circuit, having made his domestic debut way back in 2007. But this could well be his breakthrough season, having scored 926 runs at an average of 66.14, which includes 4 tons. He has a double century to his name this season but his knock of 104 in the second innings of a low scoring match against Tripura, which helped Haryana carve out an important victory has been his best this season.
4) M Ravi Kiran (Hyderabad): If Hyderabad are to continue their comeback run this season then they need their highest wicket-taker Ravi Kiran to fire on all cylinders against a formidable Mumbai batting line-up in the quarters. The medium pacer has picked up 33 wickets at an average of 18.21 this season.
5) Suryakant Pradhan (Odisha): Odisha has entered the knock-outs of the Ranji Trophy after a gap of 13 years, ever since the new rules came into effect, and the man responsible for that in a big way is medium pacer Suryakant Pradhan. The youngster has picked up 27 wickets in eight matches at an average of 28.14 and needs to be at his best against a Gujarat outfit in the quarters, who have this season's highest run-getter Priyank Panchal in their ranks.