Get the app

Star-studded Ranji Semis in Offing at Wayanad & Bangalore From Thursday

It's all down to the last four now. The semifinals for the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season will get underway on Thursday (January 24) in Bengaluru and Wayanad in Kerala.

Devadyuti Das |January 23, 2019, 2:27 PM IST
Star-studded Ranji Semis in Offing at Wayanad & Bangalore From Thursday

It's all down to the last four now. The semifinals for the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season will get underway on Thursday (January 24) in Bengaluru and Wayanad in Kerala.

Multiple-time Ranji champions and domestic powerhouse Karnataka will take on Cheteshwar Pujara's Saurashtra at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru while defending champions Vidarbha will travel to face first-time semifinalists Kerala.

Karnataka vs Saurashtra

Image: Twitter Image: Twitter

The Ranji semifinals are a mixed bag this season with Karnataka squeezing past Rajasthan, stumbling before stamping their authority in the chase. Karnataka were on the verge on conceding the first-innings lead before former skipper and paceman R. Vinay Kumar lifted them with a 83 not out down the order.

Skipper Manish Pandey and Karun Nair capped off a brilliant chase. Karnataka, who squeezed into the quarters in spite of losing their last group match against Baroda, will count on the experience of winning eight Ranji titles in the past with their last triumph coming in the 2014-15 season.

Adding to Pandey and Nair's fine touch with the bat in the last eight clash, the home side will be bolstered by the return of opener Mayank Agarwal, who missed the quarterfinal after returning from Australia with a sore thumb.

Karnataka will face an upbeat Saurashtra, who completed a record chase of 372 runs in the quarterfinal to upstage Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow. The cornerstone of the chase was opener Harvik Desai, who is the highest-scorer for them this season with 738 runs in nine games with one century and six fifties, and the first ton coming in the last innings.

Saurashtra will hope that Pujara, who made his Test debut at the Chinnaswamy stadium, will guide the young side alongside the experienced Sheldon Jackson, who has 692 runs this season at an average of 49.42.

The visitors have the edge in the bowling department with left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat scalping 28 wickets at an average of 17.67 and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja filling in for Ravindra Jadeja with 45 wickets in nine games.

Vidarbha vs Kerala

Image Credit: Facebook/KCA Image Credit: Facebook/KCA

Defending champions Vidarbha had a comfortable outing in the quarterfinals. The return of Umesh Yadav and the brilliance of Wasim Jaffer completely overwhelmed Team Uttarakhand by an innings and 115 runs in the last eight match.

"Yes, we are the defending champions but Kerala have also done well to reach the semifinals. They are playing at home and the surface will be according to their strengths. If the pitch has help for the fast bowlers, we also have Umesh Yadav and four other good pacemen to choose from," Vidarbha coach and former Mumbai wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit told CricketNext from Wayanad.

The veteran Jaffer, who has found a second win since joining Vidarbha from Mumbai, notched up his second double ton of the season and already has 969 runs in nine games with four hundreds at an average of over 80. The experience of Jaffer has guided the young batsmen like Akshay Wadkar and Faiz Fazal.

"Wasim is a champion cricketer, he is scoring tons of runs even at 40 years of age. I met him during practice this morning and I complimented him for his performances with the bat this season. His experience of playing under pressure as well as batting in knock-out games will be invaluable. Along with Umesh (Yadav), Wasim will be the dangerman from Vidarbha," Kerala coach Dav Whatmore told CricketNext.

The addition of Umesh Yadav, who picked up a five-wicket haul in the quarters, to the incisive pace of Lalit Yadav gives Vidarbha all the firepower it needs on the Wayanad track, which has been known to assist the seamers.

The home side, Kerala, are in their first-ever semifinal but have the comfort of playing in familiar territory. The pace duo of Basil Thampi and Sunil Warrier have been among the wickets all season and were instrumental in setting up the quarterfinal win over Gujarat.

"We have done well to reach the semifinals. The home conditions will give us a slight edge and the fact that Vidarbha have not played even a single game in the southern part of India this season is also an advantage for us," Whatmore added.

Their weakness lies in the batting department which is further hampered by the injury to star batsman Sanju Samson, who will miss out on the semifinal. However, coach Whatmore is an experienced campaigner and one can expect him to come up with alternate strategy to counter the champions and create more history by reaching the Ranji finals.

Related stories

Also Watch

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 Australia 4320 108
3 England 5253 105
4 New Zealand 3449 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7748 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 South Africa 5193 110
5 Australia 5854 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10645 260
see more