Ranji Trophy 2019-20: The road to the quarterfinals

Here's how the eight teams made their way through to the last eight of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season.

Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed been lifted by team-mates for playing a key role in Bengal's march into the quarterfinals.   -  PTI Photo

After nine rounds of cut and thrust in the Ranji Trophy, the quarterfinal line-up has been determined. Gujarat enters the next round as the top team from Groups A and B combined, followed by Bengal, Karnataka, Saurashtra, Andhra, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha and Goa.

One of the domestic heavyweights, Mumbai, failed to make it to the quarterfinals for the second time in two seasons. And Vidarbha will not be able to defend its crown, as it's bowed out as well.

Ranji Trophy 2019-20: J&K enters quarters despite loss to Haryana; Odisha also through

It's not been a successful season for Hyderabad and Uttarakhand. Hyderabad will be relegated from Group A to Group C, and Uttarakhand from Group C to Plate Group. Chandigarh, the newest entrant in the Ranji Trophy, finished second in the Plate Group after Goa.

Punjab and Haryana came close but couldn't quite clinch the quarterfinal berth.

So, here are the eight teams to have made the cut and how they got there.

1. Gujarat

Gujarat finished the league round of the Ranji Trophy with five wins from eight matches, beginning with a home win over Kerala in a low-scoring contest in Surat, and collecting its fifth win in the final round, against Andhra.

By the final round, however, Gujarat had already booked its spot in the quarterfinals, and so the latest win instead served to lift it to the top spot.

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After a lukewarm start,  Gujarat gained momentum from the third week of January. First, it defeated Punjab in Valsad, helped by crucial contribution with the bat from Bhargav Merai, and with the ball from left-arm seamer Arzan Nagwaswalla.

It followed this up with a four-wicket win over defending champion Vidarbha, and then gained the first-innings lead in a drawn game in Delhi.

Merai finished as the highest run-getter for the side, with 487 runs, and left-arm seamer Roosh Kalaria with the most wickets (30).

2. Bengal

The seasoned Manoj Tiwary, the captain, and Shahbaz Ahmed, the left-arm spinner, have been the top performers for Bengal which makes it to the quarterfinals with a second-place finish in the combined points table for teams from Groups A and B.

Tiwary accumulated 641 runs in eight matches and is the 18th highest run-getter, so far, in the competition.

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The team started its campaign with an away win over Kerala in a low-scoring contest in Thumba. It, then, had two draws, grabbing three points through first-innings lead in both matches.

In the second week of January, it tumbled to its first loss, a nine-wicket thrashing by Vidarbha. It quickly bounced back with an innings win over Hyderabad.

A narrow win over Rajasthan, and a win over Punjab in the final round completed a solid first phase of the Ranji Trophy for the side.

Notably, the team's success is despite the poor form of Abhimanyu Easwaran, the opener.

3. Karnataka

Karnataka registered its first win against Tamil Nadu followed by two drawn matches, against Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. It then beat Mumbai in January this year.

After a neck-and-neck battle during the first half of that contest at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, the host team was bowled out for 149 in the second innings, thanks to effective spells from three seamers - A. Mithun, V. Koushik and Prateek Jain. It turned the contest in Karnataka's favour, and Mumbai ended up not making it to the quarterfinals.

Although it suffered a setback against Saurashtra, handing it the first-innings and with it three points, it quickly bounced back with an away win over Railways.

Its eighth-round win over Baroda sealed the berth for the side.

Opener Devdutt Padikkal, with 547 runs, was the highest run-getter for Karnataka. Mithun had a fruitful season as well, finishing the league round with 27 wickets.

4. Saurashtra

Riding on the seasoned India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (509 runs) and captain and left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat (51 wickets), Saurashtra finished the league round with 31 points, and a spot in the quarterfinals.

Saurashtra registered three wins, less than Andhra, which finished fifth, with 27 points. Punjab, which couldn't make it to the quarterfinals, also had three wins.

Saurashtra, importantly, collected crucial points via the first-innings lead - against Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.

5. Andhra

Andhra had a good start to the Ranji Trophy, with four wins from its first five matches. The top and middle order, which includes the solid Hanuma Vihari, scored useful runs, and seamers K. V. Sasikanth and C. V. Stephen - and later even P. Vijay Kumar - were among the wickets.

This momentum couldn't be sustained, as in the final two rounds, it suffered defeats - against Punjab and Gujarat. Vihari being away with the India A team could have been a factor. But enough had been done to book a quarterfinal berth.

6. Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir finished as the top side in Group C, with six wins from nine matches. It lost just one match — against Haryana, in the final round of matches.

Key to its success has been the prolific run-making from Abdul Samad and Shubham Kharjuria, both of whom scored more than 500 runs. Medium-pacer Umar Nazir shone, too; he took 28 wickets.

It registered five wins from its first six matches, including an innings win over Jharkhand.

7. Odisha

In the final analysis, Odisha finished marginally ahead of Services to take the crucial second spot in Group C and with it, a quarterfinal berth. It finished with five wins, two losses and two draws - the same as Services - but with two more points and a better net run-rate.

Services required a win in the final round ahead of the knockouts, but took only three points from its contest against Chhattisgarh.

Seamers Suryakant Pradhan, Rajesh Mohanty and Basant Mohanty were the chief contributors with the ball for Odisha, each taking 30 wickets or more.

8. Goa

Goa finished as the top side in Plate Group, ahead of Puducherry in second place (48 points). There were wins over Sikkim (nine wickets), Meghalaya (innings and eight runs), Manipur (innings and 359 runs), Puducherry (81 runs), Arunachal Pradesh (innings and 336 runs), Nagaland (229 runs) and Mizoram (innings and 211 runs).

It was a dominant performance from the side, and it will move to Group C in the next round.

Plenty of players were among both runs and wickets. Its top performer was Amit Verma (791 runs and 41 wickets).

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