Ranji Trophy

Ranji Trophy round seven: TN in knockouts after six seasons, Thakur bags ten for Mumbai

Highlights from the final round of Ranji Trophy season

From 32 teams, eight of them are left standing as the final round of the Ranji Trophy 2023-24 helped lock in the knockouts line-up. Here are the highlights.

They began the season with a crushing away loss to Gujarat and then saw their chances of securing full points against Tripura go up in smoke thanks to the weather. But from having a solitary point after two rounds, Tamil Nadu have been an unstoppable force, securing four wins in their remaining five games to top Group B.

Their latest win, against Punjab, may have yet not been enough to seal the top spot had Karnataka won their final group fixture against Chandigarh; Karnataka took the first-innings honours to finish second in the pool. For Tamil Nadu, this will be their first knockout appearance since the Ranji Trophy 2016-17, where they lost to Mumbai in the semi-final.

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Their fourth win was set up by B Indrajith and Vijay Shankar who struck centuries in a massive first-innings score of 435, before the left-arm spinning duo of S Ajith Ram and Sai Kishore wheeled away to picked up 15 wickets between them. Set a mere 71, Tamil Nadu got there in just seven overs to secure a nine-wicket win.

Punjab’s fight in the second innings was led by Nehal Wadhera, who made a quickfire 107-ball 109 in an otherwise forgettable batting display. Overall, their season of promise – they won the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s – ended with a solitary win that had them finish sixth in the group.

Veterans Tiwary, Fazal walk into retirement

He un-retired after announcing his decision to walk away from all forms of cricket at the end of Ranji Trophy 2022-23 to be able to realise a long-standing dream of winning the coveted title. There seemed some merit in his decision, too; Bengal had come within sniffing distance twice in the last three years (2019-20 and 2022-23), only to be pipped by Saurashtra. But there was no fairy-tale ending for one of Indian domestic cricket’s great war horses, Manoj Tiwary, as Bengal endured a disappointing end to a campaign that never took off; finishing third, behind eventual qualifiers Mumbai and Andhra in Group B.

The gulf between them and Andhra was seven points, which Bengal would have perhaps felt they lost after two of their seven games were severely weather-affected. They, however, signed off on a winning note after handing Bihar defeat by an innings and 204 runs, with fast bowler Mukesh Kumar picking up six wickets.

Tiwary, who led Bengal all season, made 30 in his final innings, thereby ending a first-class career in which he made 10,195 runs across 148 matches with 30 hundreds and an impressive average of 47.86. He was fittingly felicitated by the Cricket Association of Bengal in a ceremony on Sunday evening at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

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