Ravindra Jadeja has every right to stake claim the triple century scorers honours in the Ranji Trophy championship. He has three under his belt (314 against Orissa at Cuttack in November 2011, 303 not out against Gujarat at Surat in November 2012 and 331 against Railways at Rajkot in December 2012).
The left-hander has indeed demonstrated he has the calling to evolve as a specialist batsman in the highest level of the game in which his colleague Cheteshwar Pujara has already made a mark with three centuries last year against New Zealand and England. These two ambitious and young cricketers have been chiefly responsible to bring Saurashtra to the forefront and compete with the fancied teams on equal terms.
Looking at a broader canvas any story of the triple centuries in domestic cricket must give an exalted place to the rugged-looking Rajkot right-hander. Pujara and the Punjab Taruwar Kohli lit up last week’s Ranji Trophy quarterfinals with sparkling triple centuries.
It was not a first though from the batting machine from Rajkot who has raised himself mastering the bread and butter shots and the extravagant at the Race Course Ground pitch --- that unless tinkered with --- simply does cease the supply of runs for a batsman willing to stay put.
When Saurashtra began playing at a new venue some five seasons ago, it did not make any difference to the right-hander’s nature of being in pursuit of excellence and score runs.
In fact it was in the rural part of Rajkot --- Khanderi village --- he scored an unbeaten 302 against Orissa. Pujara was in top form for a month in October and November 2008 when he made 386 against Maharashtra and 309 against Mumbai in the under-25 tournament at the Race Course venue. Bowlers of all variety have faced the music when Pujara has been on strike and all this started in 2001 when he opened the innings and hammered the Baroda attack to make 306 in the West Zone under-14 tournament.
It was in the week (November 9 -12 , 2012) when Jadeja took heavy toll of the Gujarat bowlers at Surat that Maharashtra Kedar’s Jadhav sent the Uttar Pradesh bowlers on a leather hunt towards making 327 runs at the Gahunje Village stadium, Pune. While Punjab’s Jiwanjot Singh Chouhan has warranted attention with five centuries and an aggregate of 916 runs in nine of his debut season, it was Kohli who dashed Jharkhand’s aspirations with an unbeaten 300 made in thirteen hours and 43 minutes and facing 609 balls with 34 x 4s and two sixes at Jamshedpur.
The five triple centuries have taken India’s tally close to 40 in first class cricket (including Virender Sehwag’s 309 against Pakistan at Multan and 314 against South Africa at Chennai).
India’s domestic cricket has always been looked upon cynical eyes on the back of genuine grouse that pitches are always made for the batsmen. That’s the rule of thumb followed by most associations, particularly by Saurashtra. But Pujara’s second triple in the Ranji Trophy was not exactly made on a flat track at the Saurashtra University ground.
Pujara said the Karnataka spinners, left-arm K.P. Appanna and off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham did not show maturity to exploit the worn out pitch. Pujara may have been keen to target B.B. Nimbalkar’s all-time high of 443 not out made against Kathiawar at the Poona Club in the 1948-48 season, but he fell much short of it.
There are famous names who have made triple centuries in first class cricket and that starts with W.G. Grace. In fact he made the first two and both in August 1876; 344 for Gentlemen of MCC against Kent at Canterbury and within a followed it up with an unbeaten 318 against Yorkshire. In between he made 177 against Nottinghamshire and the latter’s bowler Alfred Shaw said: “Oh yes, he blocks the shooters, but blocks ‘em to the boundary.’’
England’s Andrew Sandham scored 325 in his last Test match against the West Indies at Sabina Park in April 1930, but it was the first such feat in Test history. “With Andy, it was simply a case of bowl and wish’’ said Jack Mercer, a Glamrogan fast bowler then.
Capt. Vijay Samuel Hazare was the first Indian batsmen to score the first two a triple centuries; 316 not out for Maharashtra against Baroda in the 1939-40 Ranji season and 309 for The Rest versus the Hindus in 1943-44 Bombay Pentangulars.
The Indian 300 plus list: Ravindra Jadeja (3), Virendra Sehwag (2, Test matches), Cheteshwar Pujara (2), Vijay Hazare (2, Bombay Pentangular and Ranji Trophy)), Wasim Jaffer (2), Raman Lamba (2, Ranji and Duleep Trophy), V.V.S. Laxman (2), Imtiaz Ahmed (Indian Prime Minister’s XI v Commonwealth), Vijay Merchant, Gul Mohammad, B.B. Nimbalkar, Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Abdul Azeem, W.V. Raman, Sanjay Manjrekar, M.V.Sridhar, Arjan Kripal Singh, Devang Gandhi, Pankaj Dharmani, Dinesh Mongia, Gagan Khoda (Duleep Trophy), Shiv Sundar Das , Srikumar Nair, Abhinav Mukund, Sunny Singh, Rohit Sharma, Aakash Chopra, Kedar Jadhav, Taruwar Kohli (all 1 each).