Ranji Trophy, the domestic first-class cricket championship played in India, is a demanding competition for any budding cricketer and a reality check for a few who get it easy in age-group competitions. No two wickets are similar as you move to different stadiums in the country and the players need to adapt their techniques according to the conditions that are in front of them. It makes the players mentally tougher and tightens their technique.
As a result, the Indian domestic circuit witnesses some of the most competitive cricket played across the globe. The competition is fierce and every player wants to make a mark to be considered by the national selectors. There are only 15 spots in the national team and there’s a famous saying in Indian cricket that you don’t just have to knock on the door but knock the door down. Here, we have listed five young players who are finding their feet in domestic cricket and have put up stellar performances in the 2019-20 domestic season.
A left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman hailing from the same state as the great MS Dhoni, Kishan led the India Under-19 team in the 2015 Cricket World Cup where they finished runners-up. He shot to the limelight when he smashed 273 against Delhi in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season. Kishan is rated as one of the best young wicketkeepers in domestic cricket. He registered a strike rate of 145.98 in eight innings in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy leading up to the 2018 Indian T20 League auction, where he was snapped up by Mumbai as the second-most expensive player behind the uncapped all-rounder Krunal Pandya. He has had four seasons in the Indian T20 League and there have been snippets of his talent but nothing substantial to stake a claim in the national team. Still, talent is abundant and he needs to make those opportunities count.
Ishan Porel, one can say, has been unlucky as he had to face several injuries at an early stage of his career. He almost didn’t make the cut for the 2018 U-19 Cricket World Cup due to his fitness history. But Venkatesh Prasad, the junior selection committee chief saw him bowl in scorching heat and sapping humidity against Vidarbha in the domestic circuit, where Porel was sharp, accurate and could generate bounce from a docile pitch. He was soon a part of the U-19 World Cup squad travelling to New Zealand in 2018 and returned as a World Cup winner. Since then Porel has been a regular member of the India A setup and was recently picked up by the Punjab team in the Indian T20 League. Porel made his Ranji Trophy debut back in 2017 and started peaking as a cricketer. In recent times, he has become the leader of Bengal’s bowling attack in the absence of Ashoke Dinda. He also helped them reach the final of the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season.
A left-arm pacer who lets the ball do all the talking has impressed many in just his second season in domestic cricket. The impressive part of Arzan is that he comes one change and still has a remarkable record for someone who doesn’t take the new ball. He has picked up 60 wickets in just 16 first-class matches at an average of 22.03 and a strike rate of 44.2. He was Gujarat’s leading wicket-taker in the last Ranji Trophy season and in the limited opportunities he has received, he has done well in the 50-over and the T20 format as well. He is still looking for an Indian T20 League contract and that shouldn’t be far off for the youngster.
This boy rose to prominence at the age of 12 when he broke the record for the highest score in the Harris Shield Inter-school Tournament, scoring 439. He was always hailed as a child prodigy during his time in age-group cricket and his remarkable performances earned him a spot in the India Under-19 World Cup team in the UAE. Even though India went on to lose the final of the World Cup, Sarfaraz had an incredible run in the tournament having scored 211 runs at an average of 70.33. Soon after he got picked by Bangalore in the Indian T20 League and became the youngest player to play in the tournament. With some freaky yet gutsy shots and some match-winning innings, he earned heaps of praises from one and all. His career seemed to stall when he moved to Uttar Pradesh from Mumbai in order to get better opportunities but injuries set him back. After two years away from cricket, Sarfaraz came back a much fitter player and made a return to the Mumbai Ranji team. He went on to score 928 runs at an average of 154.66, but rain robbed him from becoming the first player to score back-to-back triple-centuries.
Team: Jammu and Kashmir
Irfan Pathan and Milap Mewada have a lot to do with the rise of this free-flowing batsman, Abdul Samad. The duo first spotted Samad when he was 16 at a trial camp in Jammu. His ability to hit the ball on the up effortlessly was something which stood out for the right-hand batsman. His six-hitting ability was reminiscent of Yusuf Pathan in his prime and Irfan worked hard to instil the art of putting a price on his wicket. The youngster started to get his head down and big scores started to flow for him. At 18, he is already muscular and his six-hitting ability is second to none. He had a breakthrough Ranji Trophy season in 2019-20. He smashed 36 sixes, most by any player in the season and helped his team reach the quarter-finals for just the second time in their history. A couple of months later he smashed four sixes off Piyush Chawla in a 50-over match and Indian T20 League scouts were all over him. He was picked up by the Hyderabad team and is yet to make his debut for them. In limited opportunities, he has scored at a mammoth average of 40 and a strike rate of 136.36 in domestic T20 matches.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT CRICKET NEWS STORIES & FEATURES