They are the workhorses. They keep their nose to the grindstone not showing a semblance of lack of spirit.
Once again they have led their respective side’s bowling department in an exemplary manner. Karnataka’s Vinay Kumar, Himachal Pradesh’s Vikramjit Singh Malik and Bengal’s Ranadeb Bose deserve accolades for carrying out their duties efficiently with the new ball in the ongoing Ranji Trophy.
Almost at the halfway stage of the league, these three have taken the top three positions in the most wickets category.
It’s been a back breaking endeavour for the three. The pitches so far have been far from helpful. Vinay Kumar (25), Malik (26) and Bose (30) have all sent down in excess of 100 overs in three matches for returns of 19 wickets at 18.63, 17 at 15.47 and 15 at 23.26, respectively.
There is a rookie fast bowler in Karnataka’s Abhimanyu Mithun. After a splendid debut against Uttar Pradesh at Meerut, when he bagged 11 wickets including a hat-trick, his deliveries have rolled off the bat to the lines in two subsequent matches.
Clearly the 20-year-old is in the nascent stage of his career, but he has impressed many by aiming to bowl fast and consistently at speeds higher than 140 kmph. Mithun too has 15 scalps at 30.80.
Karnataka and Bengal have gained immensely by the performance of Vinay Kumar, Mithun and Bose. Currently they occupy the top two positions in the table with 11 and 7 points, while Himachal Pradesh, in spite of Malik’s crafty exhibition is placed fourth behind Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Gujarat.
Malik rocked Mumbai at the Bandra-Kurla Complex ground with a six for 33 effort, but his side lost on the fourth day by 85 runs.
It’s the sheer experience of bowling on assorted and generally flat Indian pitches and knowing their skill that’s made Vinay Kumar, Malik and Bose look devastating at least on one occasion in the three outings so far.
Vinay Kumar has 168 wickets in 48 first class matches, Malik, 173 in 42 and Bose 285 in 76. Their teams will largely depend on them as the league enters the second half before the knockout. The unfortunate aspect though is that they may never come close to being discussed in the selection committee rooms when the Indian team is picked.
While the experienced seamers have excelled so far, Parthiv Patel continues to score runs. Gujarat’s innings stands or falls on Patel’s performance. He has made the burden of captaincy look light, and as a wicketkeeper he has not raised his hands up while appealing. Having been punished last season under a Level 2 offence that runs through a 12-month period, he has been careful.
The 24-year-old has amassed 430 runs in four innings with two centuries and as many half-centuries. Tamil Nadu’s Dinesh Karthik has 218 from three innings with one century and a half century. It’s good to see both remaining focussed.
Opener Murali Vijay too has been among the runs and so is the case with Delhi’s Shikhar Dhawan.
And last week two more players made headlines; Ajit Agarkar scored a remarkable first century for Mumbai in the second innings against Himachal Pradesh.
Cheteshwar Pujara, having repaired his left knee following an injury he suffered while at practice for Kolkata Knight Riders in South Africa, pounded the Maharashtra bowlers for a double century in his first appearance with the bat in six months.
The fourth round league matches begin on Nov. 24; an interesting stage when the top placed teams will attempt to consolidate and a handful try to grab the big points and catch up with the leaders.