Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals: Pitch analysis

As the top eight teams gear up for Ranji Trophy quarterfinals, Sportstar takes a look at the four venues and the wickets they have to offer.

Dr. Gokaraju Liala Gangaaraju ACA Cricket Ground will host the Ranji Trophy fixture between Delhi and Madhya Pradesh.   -  V. Raju

Lalabhai Contractor Stadium: Challenging task for curator in flooded Surat

Venue: Lalabhai Contractor Stadium, Surat

Match details: Vidarbha vs Kerala, Ranji Trophy QF

Average first innings score in 2017-18: 207

Average fourth innings score in 2017-18: N/A

Break-up of matches in 2017-18: Gujarat vs Jammu & Kashmir, Oct 24 to 27, Gujarat won by an innings and 64 runs; Gujarat vs Rajasthan, November 17 to 20, Gujarat won by an innings and 107 runs.

What to expect from the pitch for the quarter-finals: It’s been almost 25 years since Surat became a first-class venue when it hosted the Duleep Trophy match between West Zone and East Zone in November 1993. However, the fact that it’s not yet a regular venue on the domestic circuit is evident from the fact that the ground has staged just 21 first-class games so far. In fact, had the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad not been undergoing an ambitious renovation project, Surat may not have been allotted games in plenty over the last couple of seasons.

This season, Guajrat has enjoyed a 100 per cent success rate, with a similar pattern of bowling out the opposition cheaply and then piling on the big runs. However, for Vishwajit Padiyar, the BCCI curator who has been assigned to ensure a sporting pitch in Surat, the priority is to get the game going. After all, cyclone Ockhi has resulted in Surat being virtually flooded. If the rain doesn’t subside, perhaps Vidarbha and Kerala may have to rely on the BCCI rules of stretching the match into the sixth day if the first innings doesn’t finish in the stipulated five days. Padiyar will be hoping otherwise, though.

— Amol Karhadkar

 

VCA Stadium: A sporting wicket in store

Venue: Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Jamtha, Nagpur

Match details: Karnataka vs Mumbai

Average first innings score in 2017-18: 489

Average fourth innings score in 2017-18: N/A

Break-up of matches in 2017-18: Vidarbha vs Chhattisgarh, Oct 24 to 27, Match drawn, Chhattisgarh earned the innings lead

What to expect from the pitch for the quarter-finals: Samandar Singh Chauhan is better known as the Madhya Pradesh Cricket's “Mr. 200”. After all, the veteran curator has been responsible for the surfaces for India's ODIs against South Africa in Gwalior in 2010 and in Indore against West Indies in 2011 when Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, respectively, crossed the 200-run mark in ODIs. But as the MP man has been overseeing the preparations for the most high-profile match of the domestic season so far, he would be hoping for a strip that is far from being a belter.

“The focus is to give a result-oriented pitch,” Chauhan assures.

Thanks to India’s Test against Sri Lanka, the Jamtha could host only one Ranji game this season and that match turned out to be a run feast. Whereas, the Test match, which got over only last week, saw India piling on the runs while the bowlers found Lankans wanting in all departments. Chauhan is confident that the Test match result has no bearing over the quarter-final. “The pitch for this match is adjacent to that used for the Test, so we have got ample time to prepare the wicket. I hope the teams and the fans will enjoy a sporting pitch,” Chauhan says.

If Chauhan’s promise turns into reality, the fans will be hoping for the first televised game of the season to be an entertaining affair.

— Amol Karhadkar

 

Sawai Mansingh Stadium: A batting paradise

Venue: Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Match details: Gujarat vs Bengal

Average first innings score in 2017-18: 350-400

Average fourth innings score in 2017-18: 150-200

Break-up of matches in 2017-18: Team Rajasthan vs Jammu and Kashmir (Oct 6 to 9), Match drawn, J&K earned the innings lead

Team Rajasthan vs Jharkhand (Oct 14-17), Match drawn, Team Rajasthan earned the innings lead

Team Rajasthan vs Saurashtra (Nov 25-28), Match drawn, Saurashtra earned the innings lead

When defending champion Gujarat takes on Bengal in the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy on Thursday, the wicket at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur is likely to benefit the batsmen.

The iconic stadium in the capital city of Rajasthan was earlier known for its seam and bounce, but things changed from last season, where a bit of tinkering with the soil structure took the ‘freshness’ off the track.

Things would be no different in the quarterfinals. Sportstar has learnt from highly reliable sources, involved in the pitch preparation, that the batsmen will find it comfortable on the track. That essentially means the bowlers will have very little to look forward to, except for the first few hours of the day.

The venue, which hosted three of Team Rajasthan’s home fixtures this season, has not witnessed a single outright victory, and teams have earned points depending on the first innings lead. On an average, the first innings score of a team has been somewhere in between 350 and 400, while the fourth day has seen teams score 150-200 runs on an average, with the bowlers getting very little benefit from the surface.

The team batting first might reap the benefits. Given the fact that both Gujarat and Bengal have a strong batting line-up, the teams would be hoping to make the most of the opportunities.

— Shayan Acharya

 

Mulapadu: A sporting track in the offing

Venue: Dr. Gokaraju Liala Gangaaraju ACA Cricket Ground, Mulapadu

Match details: Delhi vs Madhya Pradesh

Average first innings score in 2017-18: N/A

Average fourth innings score in 2017-18: N/A

Break-up of matches in 2017-18: N/A

The pitch at Mulapadu cricket playfield, located some 25 km from Vijayawada, will host the quarterfinal clash between Delhi and Madhya Pradesh . Spruced up by Andhra Cricket Association, it has dash of grass on it and is expected to be a sporting track.

According to ACA curators, the mandatory 4-mm grass will decorate the strip and will help the pacers for the first three days. Spinners will relish bowling in the last two days. 

“It is a five-day game and the we want the contest to go the full distance,” one of the curators said.

The outfield is lush green and the ball is all set to travel fast as the surface appears dry. “As per the suggestion of the visiting teams we are watering the circle so that the grass will be softer, preventing injury to the players.”

In 2016, Indian women's team met the West Indies in ODIs and T20s. India won the ODI series while the Windies took the T20 honours.

In October this year, Rahul Dravid-coached India ‘A' and New Zealand ‘A’ clashed in two unofficial Tests, which India won 2-0.

— J.R. Shridharan