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Wriddhiman Saha to miss Delhi game, return to action in New Zealand
India’s first-choice Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha will not play Bengal’s upcoming Ranji Trophy fixture following directions from the BCCI, a member of the side’s team management confirmed to ESPNcricinfo.
“Yes, he won’t be playing the next game. He will now play directly in New Zealand,” he said.
Saha is currently recovering from a fracture to the ring finger of his right hand, sustained during India’s day-night Test against Bangladesh last November. By skipping the Ranji clash, Saha’s only opportunity to get some game time ahead of the New Zealand Tests will be the three-day practice match in Hamilton, a week before the first Test in Wellington on February 21.
Saha had returned to the nation fold replacing Rishabh Pant for the first Test against South Africa in Pune after injuries had sidelined him for close to 22 months because of his superior skills behind the wickets, especially against the turning ball. Bengal are temporarily second on the Elite A-B group, following their innings-and-303-run win over Hyderabad in the latest round.
Punjab batsman Shubman Gill was fined 100% of his match fee for dissent against on-field umpire Mohammad Rafi during the fourth-round Ranji Trophy fixture against Delhi in Mohali.
Gill refused to walk despite being given out, suggesting angrily to the umpire that he hadn’t nicked the ball. The umpire overturned the decision after consulting with Paschim Pathak, the square-leg umpire. The decision was met with some disappointment by the Delhi fielders, and play was halted for “seven to eight minutes”, according to those present at the venue.
There was more trouble for Gill in his second innings when he protested a caught-behind decision from the same umpire. He walked, but not before showing his displeasure with the decision, a move that was noted by match referee P Ranganathan.
“This kind of rowdy behaviour by anyone is unpardonable, least of all by proposed Captain of India A,” former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi tweeted. “No matter how talented, no player was ever bigger than the game. Example needs setting – let a more balanced person lead India A before the referee is intimidated too.”
Shreyas Gopal to lead Karnataka in Karun Nair’s absence
Karun Nair will not be available for Karnataka’s next Ranji Trophy game, in Rajkot against Saurashtra from January 11, because of his wedding.
Abhishek Reddy, the top-order batsman who scored 0 and 4 in the win over Mumbai in the last round, has been dropped for the fixture too, and in their place, batsman KV Siddharth and batting allrounder Pavan Deshpande, who were both out with injuries, have been recalled.
In the absence of regular captain Nair, as well as this season’s white-ball captain Manish Pandey, who is away on India duty, Shreyas Gopal has been named skipper for the Saurashtra game. Legspinning allrounder Shreyas has led Karnataka only once before in the Ranji Trophy, against Mumbai in the last edition of the competition.
Vengsarkar, Muzumdar call for ‘tough decisions’ after Mumbai lose again
Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy season started well enough, with a win away against Baroda, but they have since lost by ten wickets to Railways and by five wickets to Karnataka, both at home. Reacting to the latest setback, Dilip Vengsarkar has called for “some changes to be made”, while Amol Muzumdar asked for “tough decisions to be taken”.
This is an unusual position for a team like Mumbai to be in. They have 41 titles – Karnataka with eight are second – and even though they didn’t get close to having a shot at the title the last two seasons, totals of 114 and 198 against Railways and 194 and 149 against Karnakata have set off alarm bells.
“We failed to score big due to lack of application,” captain Suryakumar Yadav was quoted as saying by the Times of India after the Karnataka loss. Backing Mumbai to bounce back strongly, Yadav also said, “We will have to sit and see what is going wrong.”
Blaming the batting – featuring the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Sarfaraz Khan and Prithvi Shaw, apart from Yadav – Vengsarkar, former Mumbai and India captain, told the Indian Express, “I feel some changes need to be made. Nobody can take their place in the team for granted. I am not talking about wholesale changes, but a few players need to be shown the door.”
“Two back-to-back defeats hurt,” Muzumdar, a former Mumbai captain as well, told the Indian Express. “If this doesn’t hurt them, then there is something wrong with the players and the system. When you see such scores, you ask what is going on. Something needs to be done.”
Mumbai’s next game is away against Tamil Nadu from January 11.
Shubman Gill not-out decision sparks Delhi protest
Play was halted for seven to ten minutes in the Ranji Trophy match between Punjab and Delhi in Mohali when Punjab and India batsman Shubman Gill was reinstated as he protested the umpire’s decision to give him out caught at the wicket. While an umpire is entitled to altering his decision if done “promptly”, the rarity of such an event brought about natural displeasure from Delhi players.
Law 2.12 says: “An umpire may alter any decision provided that such alteration is made promptly. This apart, an umpire’s decision, once made, is final.”
Obviously, the DRS playing conditions don’t apply here.
Gill was adjudged caught-behind by the umpire Mohamad Rafi off the bowling of Subodh Bhati but he argued with the umpire, who proceeded to consult with the leg umpire Pashchim Pathak. After consultation he reversed the decision, drawing protests from Delhi. This was Rafi’s first first-class match.
A Punjab Cricket Association official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that Gill communicated to the umpire that he didn’t edge, and that the decision was overturned.
The Delhi team gathered near the boundary edge in protest but didn’t want to go off the field. Match referee P Ranganathan had to intervene and get the match resumed. Gill added 13 to his score of 23 before edging behind off the bowling of Simarjeet Singh.
DDCA general secretary Vinod Tihara told the Delhi team was not lodging any official complaint. The officiating team will decide at the end of the match if there are any sanctions against Gill or Delhi players for dissent.
Shaw taken off the field after injuring shoulder
Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw was taken off the field after he injured his left shoulder while fielding during the Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka on Friday.
The incident happened in the third session at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground when Shaw dived to save an overthrow.
Shaw is in the India A squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour and the team is set to leave on January 10. He is also part of the limited-overs series and the four-day matches to be played there.
A report quoted Mumbai captain Suryakumar Yadav as saying, “He (Shaw) looks better. Looking at him on the ground, it was not looking good but now I think he is looking good. Later on I will get to know from the physio on what exactly the situation is.”
Also, according to , a source from the Mumbai team said that Shaw underwent an MRI scan as a precautionary measure.
Earlier, Shaw scored a 57-ball 29 as Karnataka quicks bundled out Mumbai for 194 on the opening day.
Mayank Agarwal rested for marquee clash
Mayank Agarwal, the Karnataka top-order batsman, has been rested from the showpiece clash against Mumbai on January 3 following a BCCI request. Ajinkya Rahane, India’s Test vice-captain, is however likely to play the game along with Prithvi Shaw.
Agarwal is part of the India A squad across formats for the shadow tour of New Zealand beginning January 17. The squad will leave for Auckland on January 10. The BCCI made the request as it was mindful of his workload, given Agarwal is also a senior team regular in Test cricket. Rahane is part of the India A squad as well, but is only likely to play the second four-day fixture, in February.
Meanwhile, Shaw has also been picked across formats, but is coming off an eight-month backdated suspension for a doping violation that ended in November. He has, however, been in prolific form since his return.
The New Zealand A series starts with two one-day tour games, followed by three one-dayers. That will be followed by the two four-day matches. The India A tour precedes the senior team’s tour of the country, starting January 24 with the white-ball formats before the two-Test series in February.
In Agarwal’s absence, R Samarth, who has had a lean run across formats recently and had been left out after scoring 4 and 0 in Karnataka’s last match against Himachal Pradesh, has been brought back.
Struggling Tamil Nadu get captain Vijay Shankar back
Vijay Shankar has been cleared to play the upcoming round of the Ranji Trophy after recovering from a viral fever as well as a wrist injury.
The allrounder was deemed fit following an assessment at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and his return – as captain – comes at a time when the side desperately needs momentum heading into the halfway mark of the league stage. The selectors have made just one change, with Vijay replacing the out-of-form medium pacer J Kousik, who has gone wicketless in both his outings so far.
Tamil Nadu have a solitary point, from a hard-fought draw against Madhya Pradesh, after three matches. They lost their first two matches to Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, and will next take on a resurgent Uttar Pradesh, fresh off a bonus-point victory over Saurashtra, last season’s runners-up.
‘Indiscipline’ costs Dinda place in Bengal side
Ashok Dinda’s name was surprisingly missing from the Bengal squad list for their Ranji Trophy match against Andhra in Kolkata. It later emerged that he had been axed for “indiscipline”.
More than one member of the Bengal set-up confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that Dinda had hurled abuse – without any apparent provocation – at bowling coach Ranadeb Bose on the eve of the match, when Bose was speaking to captain Abhimanyu Easwaran during a training session. Arun Lal, the team’s mentor and coach, was not present at the scene at the time.
Dinda’s name was in the original squad sheet, but it was removed following the incident. It is understood that he was given a chance to apologise to Bose, but refused. And, as things stand, Dinda “is not a part of the team, at least for this match” and could well be forced to sit out for longer, depending on how discussions on the matter at Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) go.
The senior-most member of the Bengal bowling unit, Dinda was left out of the squad for the 2019-20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and picked up three wickets in Bengal’s win over Kerala in their Ranji season opener. Overall, the quick has played 116 first-class matches in a 14-year career, picking up 420 wickets.
Ishant, Dhawan in Delhi squad
Delhi, who have just one point so far following a draw against Kerala and a loss to Andhra, will be bolstered by the return of Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan for their next game, against Hyderabad at home at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Ishant was rested for Delhi’s earlier games as part of the BCCI’s workload-management programme for premier fast bowlers, while Dhawan had been out of action after picking up an injury at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in November. Dhawan has also been picked in India’s squads for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka and Australia at home early next year.
Like Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, who was out with a stress fracture of the back since the end of India’s tour of the West Indies in August, was picked in the India limited-overs squads and will also feature in Gujarat’s next game, against Kerala in Surat. However, Bumrah eventually sat out of the game. Gujarat currently have six points after their eight-wicket win against Hyderabad.
“Ishant and Shikhar will be playing for Delhi. My colleague Sarandeep Singh will be watching that match,” MSK Prasad, the chief selector, was quoted as saying by . Prasad also said he will be travelling to Surat to watch Bumrah’s comeback match.
Injury crisis for Tamil Nadu
R Ashwin’s absence is not the only blow for Tamil Nadu ahead of their match against Madhya Pradesh. Senior opener Abhinav Mukund is not available for the match due to personal reasons. And the hard-hitting Shahrukh Khan, who has hurt his little finger, is not a part of the squad either.The trio has been replaced with Kaushik Gandhi, Hari Nishaanth and L Suryapprakash, all top-order batsmen.
Washington Sundar returns for Tamil Nadu
Washington Sundar, after being a part of all three games in India’s 2-1 T20I series win over West Indies, has returned to link up with Tamil Nadu for their next Ranji Trophy game, against Himachal Pradesh in Dindigul, from December 17.
Making way for Washington is the uncapped medium pacer K Mukunth, who was among the reserves for Tamil Nadu’s first-round match, against Karnataka in Dindigul, which ended up being a thriller. Karnataka eventually won it by 26 runs after K Gowtham, the offspin-bowling allrounder, put on a stellar show with a 14-wicket match haul, along with a half-century in the Karnataka first innings.
K Gowtham out of round two with hairline fracture
Karnataka will be without the hero of their nail-biting win against Tamil Nadu for the second round of the Ranji Trophy, with K Gowtham having sustained a hairline fracture on his right foot. Gowtham was thus not named in a 15-man squad that will take on Uttar Pradesh in Hubli, from December 17 to 20.
It is not yet certain if Gowtham will be out for longer than one round or not.
A Karnataka team official said Gowtham had originally injured his foot during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Surat, but had recovered by the time the Ranji Trophy started. In the first round, Karnataka took on Tamil Nadu – having already beaten them in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final and the Syed Mushtaq Ali final – and Gowtham starred with both bat and ball in a thrilling 26-run win achieved in the final over of the last day.
Gowtham, 31, made a 39-ball 51 in the first innings to drag Karnataka to 336. He then took 6 for 110 as Tamil Nadu were bowled out for 307. He contributed 22 as Karnataka were bowled out for just 151. But Gowtham then turned the match Karnataka’s way after Tamil Nadu had motored to 49 without loss in a chase of 181, putting in a lion-hearted performance to take 8 for 60.
Those were the best figures of his career, and his match haul of 14 for 170 was also a career-best. However, Gowtham ended up bowling a total of 71 overs across two innings (out of the 173 overs Karnataka bowled overall), which aggravated the injury again.
Gowtham’s absence will mean Karnataka will be without two key players who were part of their win against Tamil Nadu, with Mayank Agarwal having been called up to India’s ODI squad, and thus also absent.
Assam v Jharkhand game shifted out of Guwahati
Guwahati will not host the upcoming second-round Ranji Trophy fixture between Assam and Jharkhand because of the ongoing political turmoil in the state following the parliamentary approval to India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill. Assam will instead travel to Ranchi, in Jharkhand, for the game.
Assam’s first home game against Services was abandoned after three days of play, with the visitors in sight of victory when curfew was imposed in the state. The match, however, was categorised as a draw, the toss having taken place, and Assam earned three points for their first-innings lead, with Services getting one point.
An Assam Cricket Association official confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that with “the security of the players” being “the most important thing”, it wasn’t possible to have cricket in the state while the unrest continued.
Word from the Jharkhand camp was also that they had been asked to go back home to Ranchi from Agartala – where they beat Tripura in dramatic fashion in their first game – instead of travelling to Guwahati.
The Services players, in fact, had to delay their departure from Guwahati because of the curfew. They had originally planned to leave on the evening of the final day, but were only able to depart the following day.
Umesh Yadav returns for Vidarbha’s game against Rajasthan
Defending Champions Vidarbha will be bolstered by the return of Umesh Yadav for their upcoming fixture against Rajasthan at home. Yadav missed his side’s opening match against Andhra as the India team management wanted him to take a break following his heavy workload across four Tests against South Africa and Bangladesh. But Vidarbha will have his services for the next game, and possibly the one after against Punjab at home as well.
“He was rested for the first match because of the heavy schedule [as decided by the India team management], but we have him for the second match,” a Vidarbha Cricket Association official told ESPNcricinfo. We will decide on him match by match, but we are hoping to have him for the next two matches too, because those are also at home.”
Umesh was the highest wicket-taker in the home Tests this season, with 23 strikes, that despite missing a Test.
No play in Guwahati following political unrest, curfew
The political unrest across Assam following the parliamentary approval to India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill has hit the ongoing Assam v Services Ranji Trophy match, with the final day’s play on Thursday called off because of the indefinite state-wide curfew.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Debojit Saikia, the vice-president of Assam Cricket Association, said, “Yes, there is no question of the players coming from the hotel to the stadium because of the curfew. There has been a lot of violence in the state, and in Guwahati, already. Their security is our biggest concern. So we had to call off the game today.”
The Services players, who were in with a great shot of bagging points for an outright win with Assam 74 for 5 in their second innings, still 161 runs adrift of the victory target, did not fly out as planned.
“It’s not safe for them. We will take stock of the situation tomorrow afternoon and decide on the next course of action,” Saikia said.
As things stand, the match will be abandoned, and Saikia said that the ACA will speak to the BCCI to see if it can be replayed on a later date.
‘I thought it’s a time to grab it’ – Shaw on maiden first-class double
Prithvi Shaw, who has been in excellent run-scoring form since returning to the game after serving a doping ban, led Mumbai’s charge in their second innings against Baroda with 179-ball 202. He had hit 66 in 62 balls in the first innings too.
“It [double-century] was never on my mind. I was trying to score runs. That’s it,” Shaw was quoted as saying by after he hit his maiden first-class double. “But as I got closer to 200 runs I thought it’s a time to grab it. People do score hundreds, not that it’s easy to score hundreds, but I felt kuch bada karna padega (I had to do something big).”
Since making his comeback, Shaw hit 63, 30, 64, 30 and 53 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament, before the big runs in the Ranji game in Vadodara.
“I waited for this day, I feel this is the best time to show the world what kind of game I have. I believe I can do well and conquer things. To be honest I do think about the India comeback. I wasn’t dropped and I was out of the team. It was not a nice feeling.”
M Vijay fined for dissent
M Vijay, the Tamil Nadu opening batsman, was fined 10% of his match fee for expressing his displeasure at an on-field decision during the first day of the contest against Karnataka in Dindigul.
The Tamil Nadu players were unhappy with more than one decision by umpires Nitin Pandit and Anil Dandekar, and when, in the final session of the day, Pavan Deshpande was adjudged not out after a big appeal from bowler R Ashwin and his team-mates, the Tamil Nadu players all got together near the pitch.
With no technology available, the matter ended there, and it emerged after the day’s play that Vijay had been fined for “dissent”.
Wanted ‘someone young’ to lead Tamil Nadu – Karthik
Dinesh Karthik, who led Tamil Nadu to the finals of the Vijay Hazare and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this year, has explained that his decision to not lead the side at the upcoming Ranji Trophy was down to passing the baton to the younger lot.
“I believe for so long we have had various captains, so now it is time to have someone young who can take [Tamil Nadu] forward,” Karthik, 34, was quoted as saying by Sportstar, the captaincy having been handed to allrounder Vijay Shankar earlier this week. “I think the captaincy should not be for just this year but for the next two-three years.
“We have a lot of young talents and it is important for these players to start thinking what’s the way [Tamil Nadu] should play to try to win the Ranji Trophy. If we give time, they will be able to do that.”
Tamil Nadu will kick off their campaign against Karnataka, in Dindigul on Monday.
Kerala pick Baby over Uthappa for captaincy
Sachin Baby, and not Robin Uthappa, will lead Kerala in the Ranji Trophy. Baby retains the captaincy, having led Kerala to the semi-finals in 2018-19. A season earlier, he had led them to their maiden quarter-final appearance.
Uthappa, who led the team during the limited-overs leg of the domestic season, will, however, still be key to the state’s batting fortunes. It is believed his underwhelming returns both as captain and batsman in the white-ball season led to the KCA’s decision of continuing with Baby.
Uthappa managed just 112 runs in eight innings at the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s after that, he managed 139 runs in six innings, with one half-century. Kerala failed to progress to the knockouts in either competition.
Goa rope in Smit Patel after CM Gautam’s arrest
Smit Patel, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has moved to Goa as a professional after two seasons with Tripura. He replaces CM Gautam, the former Karnataka wicketkeeper, who has been stripped of his contract in the wake of his arrest in the Karnataka Premier League spot-fixing scandal.
With Parthiv Patel keeping wickets, Smit moved out of his home state Gujarat before the 2016-17 season because of lack of opportunities with the gloves. In all, Smit, an Under-19 World Cup winner in 2012, has played 45 first-class matches, scoring 2479 runs at an average of 49.66 and effecting 101 dismissals behind the stumps.
Suryakumar Yadav is the new Mumbai captain
Mumbai, Ranji Trophy champions on 41 occasions, will begin the 2019-20 season with a new captain. The Mumbai Cricket Association announced in-form top-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav as the leader of the 15-man squad. He takes over from fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, who led the side last season in the red-ball competition when regular captain Shreyas Iyer was away on national duty.
Aditya Tare, the wicketkeeper-batsman, was named vice-captain for their first match against Baroda, with star players Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Shardul Thakur also in the mix.
Sarfaraz Khan, the big-hitting middle-order batsman who moved to Mumbai last year from Uttar Pradesh, also found a spot in the squad after recovering from an injury he picked up at the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He did not feature in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season after switching because of the mandatory one-year cooling-off period.
Siddhesh Lad to miss Mumbai’s first game
Batsman Siddhesh Lad, one of the mainstays of the Mumbai side, will skip the first match of the season, away against Baroda, because of his wedding. He wasn’t named in the original squad of 15, to be led by Suryakumar Yadav, which has a strong batting contingent headlined by the captain, vice-captain Aditya Tare, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Jay Bista, Sarfaraz Khan and others.
Vijay Shankar to lead Tamil Nadu, M Vijay returns
Tamil Nadu allrounder Vijay Shankar has been handed the team’s captaincy for the first time in the Ranji Trophy, following their squad announcement for the first two matches, against Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.
R Ashwin and M Vijay will also turn out for Tamil Nadu, with the latter having recovered from an ankle injury that saw him sidelined from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Baba Aparajith will be Shankar’s deputy.
It is understood that Vijay Shankar pipped Ashwin to the captaincy role since the Test spinner may not be available when India tour New Zealand in January 2020 for a Test series.