Its been a long season of Indian domestic cricket but the action now shifts to the Ranji Trophy, which gets underway from 9 December. Adding Chandigarh, which will compete for the first time, the 86th season of India’s most prestigious first-class tournament will comprise of 38 teams.
A total of 169 matches will be played across different venues over the course of almost 100 days. Just as with previous seasons, this edition too will feature quite a few international and domestic stars.
However, keeping aside the sheer magnitude of the tournament, it will also be the ideal platform for youngsters to steal the spotlight and present their cases for the international call-up. Here, we present some of the bright youngsters you should watch out for in the upcoming Ranji Trophy:
Karnataka’s opening batsmen Devdutt Padikkal has had a terrific domestic season so far. He finished as the leading run-getter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring 609 from 11 matches at a staggering average of 67.66. His tally was studded with two centuries and five half-centuries.
The 19-year-old carried his rich vein of form to the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he again finished as the leading run-getter with 580 from 12 matches.
Karnataka won both Vijay Hazare and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and undoubtedly, it was the left-hander’s heroics which made it happen.
After becoming the talk of the town on the domestic front, the in-form batsman has also been retained by IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore for the upcoming edition. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the longest format of the game as he will definitely be on the radar of the selectors.
The 22-year-old was seen in India colours for the first time in a T20I game against Australia in 2019.
After being picked by IPL franchise Mumbai Indians for 20 lakhs in 2018, he made a stunning debut against Chennai Super Kings, finishing with figures of 4-0-23-3. Since then, the leggie’s wicket-taking ability as well as his impressive economy rate have made him one of skipper Rohit Sharma’s go-to bowlers.
At the domestic level, Markande was the leading wicket-taker for Punjab in his first-class debut in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, taking 29 wickets from six matches.
So far, he has taken 40 wickets in just 10 first-class matches while in his List A career is studded with 64 wickets from just 38 matches.
Having made it to the T20I squad once, the prolific leggie will be hungry to prove his mettle in the upcoming Ranji Trophy and become a regular feature in the Indian national squad.
R Sai Kishore
The left-arm spinner has been a find for Tamil Nadu, who made it to the finals of both Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy, but ended up on the losing side.
Sai Kishore picked 20 wickets from 12 matches and finished atop the wicket-taking charts in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Mind you, he had a staggering economy rate of just 4.63 in the shortest format of the game. His best outing was against Tripura, where he finished with impressive figures of 4/6.
A handy spinner, he has varied his lengths and used his tall frame to good effect and is another player who will be keenly looked at in the Ranji Trophy.
The 21-year-old was the leading-run scorer for Jharkhand in this Syed Ali Mushtaq trophy, amassing 343 runs from 10 matches. The second-highest run-scorer for Jharkhand had just 150 runs, highlighting the pivotal role played by the young lad.
Earlier this year, he had also topped the run charts for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 335 runs from seven matches at a phenomenal average of 83.75.
As most of his runs came during crisis situations, he would definitely be one to watch out for from the selectors’ perspective.
The 23-year-old came finally caught people’s attention after he was bagged by IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders in 2018. Not many would know but he had a dream first-class debut for Karnataka against a touring Bangladesh side in 2015, where he finished with a match-winning spell of 5 for 49.
After making his List A debut for Karnataka in the 2016-17 Vijay Hazare Trophy, he was the leading wicket-taker for his side with 13 wickets from seven matches. So far, in his first-class career, Prasidh has taken 20 wickets from just six matches while his List A career reads 67 wickets in 41 outings.
But the medium-pacer will be eyeing an impressive outing in the premier first-class tournament to catch the selectors’ eye and break into the national squad.
Here’s another talented youngster who has been phenomenal with the bat on the domestic front lately.
He shone on his List A debut for Maharashtra 2016–17 Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring 132 off 110 balls and eventually, went on to become his team’s highest run-getter (third-highest overall). He hammered 444 runs from seven innings at an average of 63.42 and stole the spotlight from there on. On the West Indies A tour, 2019, Gaikwad was the second-highest run-getter in ODI’s, averaging 51.75.
The 22-year-old, who has become an India A regular now, finished as the second-highest run-getter in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. He struck 419 runs in 11 matches including three crucial fifties in the group stages as his side failed to make it to the semi-final of the tournament.
His impressive domestic performances have earned him the vice-captaincy of the Mumbai squad in the upcoming Ranji Trophy.
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