The idea of a fixture between the Ranji Trophy Champions and the Rest of India was first mooted in 1941-42 when the all conquering Maharashtra side was pitted against the rest of the country for a war time charity match. But that proved the solitary instance till the Ranji Trophy completed its silver jubilee in 1959-60.
Zal Irani – who was connected with the Board of Control for Cricket in India from its inception in 1928 till his death in 1970 – was honoured by having a Trophy presented in his name. Before becoming president of the board, Irani was the honorary treasurer and one of the vice-presidents.
In appreciation of his services to Indian cricket, the BCCI instituted a trophy in his name, to be presented to the winners of a match to be played between the Ranji Trophy champions of the preceding year and a selected Rest of India XI. It started in 1959-60 and was played at the end of the season. After five years it was shifted to the beginning of next season. In 1960-61,1961-62 and 1964-65 the trophy could not be played.
The first match of the series was played between Bombay and the Rest at the Ferozshah Kotla Ground in Delhi from March 18 to 20, 1960. Though the match was drawn, Bombay were declared winners on first innings lead.
This is the first time Irani Cup is being held twice in the same season. In September last year 2011-12 Ranji winners Rajasthan took on Rest of India at Bangalore. Rest won the match by an innings and 79 runs. Within five months we are having another edition of Irani Cup, with 2012-13 Ranji champions taking on Rest of India! This is because BCCI have shuffled the order of various domestic events. Henceforth Irani Cup will be played at the end of the season and not at the beginning.
Bombay’s Polly Umrigar has the distinction of scoring the first century of the tournament — 102 in 137 minutes with 14 fours vs Rest of India in 1959-60. Gujarat off-spinner Jasu Patel was the first to take a five-wicket haul in the tournament when he returned the figures of 5 for 98 vs Bombay in 1959-60.
Rest of India’s 757-7 declared against Bengal at Bangalore in 1990-91 is the highest score by a team in the tournament, while the 83 by the Rest against Bombay at Anantapur in 1963-64 is the lowest.
Murali Vijay’s 266 for the Rest against Rajasthan at Bangalore last year is the highest individual score for a batsman. There have been six more double centuries in the tournament, coming off the bat of Gundappa Viswanath, Parthasarthi Sharma, Surinder Amarnath, Ravi Shastri, Pravin Amre and Yuvraj Singh. In all, a total of 89 hundreds have been scored in the tournament, with Gundappa Viswanath and Dilip Vengsarkar scoring the most, 4 each.
Karnataka’s Syed Kirmani (v the Rest,Pune,1974-75), Rest of India’s Yashpal Sharma (v Karnataka, Bangalore, 1978-79) and VVS Laxman (v Mumbai, Chennai, 2003-04) are the three batsmen to miss a hundred by just one run.
Viswanath – with 1001 runs in 9 matches – is the highest run-scorer in the history of Irani Cup. He is followed by Wasim Jaffer (827) and Dilip Vengsarkar (779).
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik’s 9-70 for the Rest of India against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium in 2000-01 are the best bowling figures, while another left-arm slow bowler, Ravi Shastri, representing Bombay, has the next best figures of 9-101 (at Indore in 1981-82). Baloo Gupte and Sairaj Bahutule are the other bowlers to have taken 8 wickets in an innings. In all, there have been 67 five-wicket innings hauls, with Padmakar Shivalkar taking the most (4).
Anil Kumble’s 13-138 (for the Rest against Delhi at Delhi in 1992-93) are the best match-haul figures. Murali Kartik’s 13-143 (for the Rest against Mumbai at Mumbai in 2000-01) are the second best. Mumbai’s Sairaj Bahutule (13-168 v the Rest, Mumbai, 1997-98) is the only other bowler to have taken 13 wickets in a match. In all there have been 13 ten-wicket match hauls.
Kumble is the only bowler to have taken ten wickets in a match on two occasions. Shivalkar – with 51 wickets in 10 games – is the highest wicket-taker in tournament’s history.
Ashok Mankad holds the distinction of playing most Irani Cup matches – 13 – all for Bombay. Sunil Gavaskar played 12 for Bombay and Rest of India.
This is the 52nd scheduled edition of the Irani Cup. The Rest of India has won the Irani Trophy the most number of times, 24, followed by Bombay/Mumbai (14), Karnataka (4), Delhi and Railways (2 each) and Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu and Haryana (once each) are the other teams to have laid their hands on the trophy. The title was shared by the Rest of India and Bombay in 1965-66 at the Corporation Stadium in Madras, as rain prevented a result even on first innings scores. In 1979-80 the trophy was shared by Rest of India and Delhi after the scheduled game at Jalandhar had to be abandoned without the toss.