The neutral pitfall

Rishi Dhawan.-V. GANESH

It was not a sight which any cricketer or an official would like to see again — empty stands on all five days of the Ranji Trophy final between Karnataka and Maharashtra at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad. Ironically, there were more gun-wielding cops at the venue than spectators.

Clearly, the ‘third party’ interest was missing. Fans in Hyderabad were least interested in coming to the ground since there was no local flavour. There were no takers even with the Eastern Stand being thrown open to the fans. And there was no star value, with only Robin Uthappa and R. Vinay Kumar being exceptions to some extent.

When the BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel was questioned about the flop ‘neutral venue,’ he said that some members had debated on this subject but pointed out that these things had been finalised a long time back. “Maybe, we might debate again on this,” he added.

Though all the five members of the national selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil watched the proceedings right through, the inevitable query did crop up — what value do these gentlemen give to the leading performers of the 2013-14 Ranji season. Some of the batsmen’s successes have been against weak oppositions and on docile tracks while the rich haul of wickets have come about mostly in bowler-friendly conditions in the North.

Clearly, gone are the days when a special performance in a Ranji final or an Irani Trophy match was deemed as one big step forward to finding a place in the Indian team.

Kedar Jadhav.-VIVEK BENDRE

It may not be an exaggeration to mention that if an average cricket lover is asked who Rishi Dhawan (Himachal Pradesh) is or for that matter Anureet Singh (of Railways), the reply might be in the negative despite the fact that they are the leading wicket-takers with 49 and 44 victims respectively this Ranji season. So is the case with Kedar Jadhav of Maharahstra and Lokesh Rahul of Karnataka even though they finished the season at the top of the table with 1223 and 1033 runs respectively this season.

Top performers in Ranji Trophy 2013-14 season Batting

Kedar Jadhav (Maharashtra) 1223 runs — 6 x 100, 2 x 50.

Lokesh Rahul (Karnataka) 1033 — 3 x 100, 4 x 50.

Harshad Khadiwale (Maharashtra) 1004 — 3 x 100, 4 x 50.

Saurabh Tiwary (Jharkhand) 854 — 1 x 100, 6 x 50.

Faiz Fazal (Vidarbha) 845 — 2 x 100, 6 x 50.

Hanuma Vihari (Hyderabad) 841 — 2 x 100, 6 x 50.

Yogesh Takawale (Tripura) 839 — 3 x 100, 3 x 50.

Naman Ojha (Madhya Pradesh) 835 runs — 4 x 100, 1 x 50.

Mahesh Rawat (Railways) 820 runs — 3 x 100, 5 x 50.

Jiwanjot Singh (Punjab) 802 runs — 2 x 100, 4 x 50.

Bowling Rishi Dhawan (Himachal Pradesh) — 49 wickets. Anureet Singh (Railways) — 44. Abhimanyu Mithun (Karnataka) — 41. Ashok Dinda (Bengal) — 40. Pankaj Singh (Rajasthan) — 39. Vishal Dabolkar (Mumbai) — 37. Jasprit Bumrah (Gujarat) — 38. Amit Yadav (Goa) — 37. Sandeep Sharma (Punjab) — 36. Jalaj Saxena — 35. Wicket-keeping C. M. Gautam (Karnataka) — 43 victims. Rohit Motwani (Maharashtra) — 42. K. S. Bharat (Andhra) — 35. V. V. Subrahmanyam