The third round of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy got underway from Tuesday (November 20) with quite a few India and India A stars missing out due to their respective commitments. However, there was no shortage of action with Varun Aaron, Parvez Rasool, Rajat Bhatia, Yogesh Nagar and Jiwanjot Singh hogging most of the limelight on the opening day of Round 3. Here are the takeaways:
Mohammed Shami returns; other stars miss out
The Indian team management had asked Tamil Nadu's R Ashwin and Delhi's Ishant Sharma, who are part of the Test squad in Australia, to not play for their states in this round of the Ranji Trophy keeping their workloads in mind. The think tank wants them to be fresh and ready for the four-match Test series.
Delhi were also without Gautam Gambhir, who was ruled out of the Hyderabad match due to a shoulder niggle. For Hyderabad, Tanmay Agarwal scored an unbeaten 112 on the first day to propel his team to 232 for 3.
Indian pacer Shami was allowed to play for Bengal on one condition - he can only bowl 15 overs per innings, that too with a “grace” of not more than two or three overs. The right-armer bowled five overs and picked up a wicket of Kerala's Arun Karthik after Bengal were bowled out for 147 in their first innings at the Eden Gardens. Basil Thampi was the pick of the bowlers finishing 4 for 57. Kerala were 35 for 1, still trailing by 112 runs, when the stumps were drawn.
Meanwhile, Saurashtra had to take the field without Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja in their match against Gujarat, who managed 269 for 9 on Day 1. Manprit Juneja (66), wicketkeeper-batsman Dhruv Raval (63) and Rush Kalaria (53*) all chipped in for their team.
Varun Aaron continues to shine
Meanwhile, in Ranchi, Varun Aaron (5 for 22) and Ajay Yadav (3 for 35) demolished Rajasthan for just 100 runs in 42.2 overs. It was because of these two pacers that Jharkhand were able to defeat Haryana inside two days in the second round. Rajasthan's TM Ul-Haq then scalped four of the five Jharkhand wickets to reduce them to 92 for 5. Jharkhand will hope Ishank Jaggi, who is unbeaten on 44, will collect some handy runs with the lower-order tomorrow and give them a decent first-innings lead.
Star(less)-studded Karnataka vs Mumbai
While Karnataka were without Mayank Agarwal, R Samarth and Karun Nair, Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer too didn't turn out for Mumbai. Agarwal, Samarth, Nair and Shaw are currently in New Zealand with the India A squad. Meanwhile, Iyer is part of the Twenty20 International side in Australia.
The absence of senior players allowed KV Siddharth to take the centre stage and the right-handed batsman brought up his maiden first-class century to lead Karnataka to 263 for 4. Siddharth was unbeaten on 104, while for Mumbai, it was medium-pacer Shivam Dubey who picked up all the four wickets.
Cricket returns to Jammu and Kashmir
Cricket returned to J&K after almost three years and their skipper Parvez Rasool marked the occasion with a five-wicket haul. The last time J&K played a match at home was in December 2015. The offspinner 5 for 30 and played a key role in bundling Tripura out for 124. Irfan Pathan too chipped in with two wickets and then was unbeaten on 47 when the curtains were drawn on Day 1. J&K were 154 for 1 in 40 overs, with a lead of 30 runs to their name.
Tamil Nadu pace-attack back to full strength
Left-arm paceman T Natarajan finally made his Ranji Trophy-return after almost two years and that allowed Tamil Nadu to play their first-choice seam attack for the first time since their semi-final defeat against Mumbai in the 2016-17 season.
While K Vignesh didn't pick up a wicket, Natarajan (2 for 31) and M Mohammed (4 for 60), who took a hat-trick in the opening round, had a very good outing against Andhra, who were 198 for 8 at the end of Day 1.
Rajat Bhatia and Saurabh Rawat come to Uttarakhand's rescue
After right-arm fast-medium Ishwar Chaudhary (3 for 81) reduced Uttarakhand to 38 for 4 in Bhubaneswar, Rawat and skipper Bhatia added 208 runs for the fifth wicket to bring their team back on track. While Bhatia fell for 121, Rawat was unbeaten on 115 as Uttarakhand ended Day 1 with 290 for 5 on the board.
Yogesh Nagar (166) and Raj Biswa (111) starred for Meghalaya as they finished Day 1 at 338 for 5 against Nagaland in Shillong.
Captain Faiz Fazal (108*) and Wasim Jaffer (110*) notched up tons to push Vidarbha to 228 for 1 against Baroda.
Punjab rode on Jiwanjot Singh's unbeaten 123 to reach 253 for 4 against Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, despite Taruwar Kohli's 100 Mizoram were dismissed for 219. In reply, Manipur were 54 for 3, still trailing by 165 runs.
Elite Groups A and B
Karnataka 263/4 v Mumbai
Gujarat 269/6 v Saurashtra
Vidarbha 268/1 v Baroda
Hyderabad 232/3 v Delhi
Chhattisgarh 222 for 5 v Railways
Punjab 253/4 v Madhya Pradesh
Andhra 198/8 v Tamil Nadu
Bengal 147 v Kerala 35/1
Elite Group C
Tripura 124 v Jammu and Kashmir 154/1
Assam 121 v Odisha 86 for 3
Rajasthan 100 v Jharkhand 92 for 5
Haryana 263/9 v Goa
Services 256/8 v Uttar Pradesh
Meghalaya 338/5 v Nagaland
Mizoram 219 v Manipur 54/3
Uttarakhand 290/5 v Sikkim
Puducherry 0/0 v Bihar (washed out)