Ranji Trophy 2018/19: Spotlight on ‘Seven Sisters’ as new season begins - watsupptoday.com
Ranji Trophy 2018/19: Spotlight on ‘Seven Sisters’ as new season begins
Posted 01 Nov 2018 01:41 PM

Agencies
Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season is all set kick off from Thursday. India’s premier domestic competition enters its 85’th year and this time it is bigger and better with a total of 37 teams participating in it. But it is the introduction of nine new teams that has grabbed all the headlines and the onus will be on them to deliver. To kick-start, the season 17 matches start at different venues across the country on Thursday. Meanwhile, India’s international stars like R Ashwin, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and others will also be in action in the three-month-long tournament. But the question on everybody’s mind will be whether MS Dhoni will play a part in the Jharkhand cricket team. Only time can answer that question. Further, the competition also serves as a breeding ground for the next rung of stars who can make their way to the national team. Particularly interesting will be the performances of the spinners. Young Mihir Hirwani (Madhya Pradesh), Siddharth Desai (Gujarat), Anukul Roy (Jharkhand), Jayant Yadav (Haryana), Shahbaz Nadeem (Jharkhand) are some of those on whom a keen eye must be kept upon.Courtesy of the implementation of Lodha committee’s recommendation nine new teams – Bihar, Pondicherry, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland – will be making their first-class debut. The spotlight will be on the seven sisters (including Assam) as to how they deliver on the big stage. While they did give a good account of themselves in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, four-day cricket will be a tougher challenge. Hence, their performances will be keenly watched and scrutinized but at the same time also gives them a chance to leave an indelible mark on the domestic circuit. The nine teams will compete against each other in the plate group but will most rely on their outstation players to secure important points. While some of the matches will be one-sided what must be cherished is the inclusiveness of the domestic season.
While the nine teams aim to find their footing, other teams will be in action across Group A, B and C. Out of these Group A seems to be the toughest of all as it comprises Mumbai, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Saurashtra, Railways Chattisgarh, Vidarbha, and Gujarat. Defending champion Vidarbha, domestic giants Mumbai and Karnataka and an unpredictable Saurashtra form the core in the 2018-19 season.
Vidarbha will be the ones to watch out for and will be led by Faiz Fazal. However, a notable miss will be R Gurbani who claimed 39 wickets in six games last season. 41-time Ranji champions Mumbai remain firm favourites. Under the leadership of Shreyas Iyer and tutelage of coach Vinayak Samant they will aim for a historic 42nd title. However, they will miss the services of Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw and Shardul Thakur (injury) in several matches.
While Mumbai are automatic choices for this category because of its fabled history, their past few seasons haven’t been up to the mark. Hence, this season offers them a chance to once again assert their supremacy. Among the others, Tamil Nadu will be hoping to finally live up to its expectations. With the likes of Murali Vijay, R Ashwin, D Karthik, Washington Sundar, and Vijay Shankar among their ranks and most of them being available for quite a few matches, Tamil Nadu should make this year count. Karnataka is another team who boast of a healthy combination of experience and youth. Among the dark horses are Saurashtra and Bihar (who return to domestic cricket after 18 years) can be counted upon to spring a surprise.The Quarter-final stages begin from the 15th of January. The process to qualify will see. Top five teams from Group A and B qualify for the quarter-finals. Two more make it from Group C (comprising 10 teams). Lastly, they will be joined by the team that finishes on top in the Plate Group.

The league stage matches of Ranji Trophy 2018/19 will start on November 1. In December, four games will be played on 6, 14, 22 and 30th. The last league stage match will be held on January 7. As mentioned earlier, the quarter-finals will start on January 15 while the two semi-finals are scheduled from January 24 to 28. The finals of Ranji Trophy 2018/19 will be held on February 2. All the matches begin at 9:30 AM IST.

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