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Ranji Trophy, Super league, 2007-08 [Ranji SS available]

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Same difference - Sidharth Monga traces Uttar Pradesh's rise over the last three years, and finds they're still an underdog story January 12, 2008 spacer.gif322060.jpgApart from their batting prowess, Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina offer UP plenty in the field © Cricinfo Ltd. 2005-06 Four points from four matches. Bottom of the table. Three big wins, a first-innings lead, and Uttar Pradesh are Ranji champions for the first time in the history. 2007-08 Eight points from four matches. Bottom of the table. Three big wins and UP are one match short of becoming the champions for the second time in three years. Not much has changed, has it? Outside UP, though, the world has changed a lot over the last two years. Teams over the country have become more professional: almost all the strong teams now have a proper physiotherapist, a trainer, and a video analyst. In UP, change means the retirement of three seniors - Gyanendra Pandey, Ashish Zaidi and Rizwan Shamshad - one of whom has become the coach and one the manager. They now have a physio who doubles up as a trainer. Otherwise life is pretty much the same; there is no video analysis, every time they arrange a camp they have to arrange a ground - the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) doesn't own one. At times players have to pool in to buy the SG Test balls. The extended team - players, coach, manager and physio - feels the only contribution from outside has been the stinging criticism from former players. The loss of Shalabh Srivastava, their key left-arm opening bowler, to the Indian Cricket League is a glaring example of how the system doesn't care for its cricket. Srivastava, the third-highest wicket-taker in the 1999-2000 Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka, which India won, was a blossoming talent when he had to undertake expensive knee surgery in South Africa in 2003. He was assured that he would be reimbursed but it hasn't happened yet. In 2007 - at 26 and ostensibly in the prime of his career - he didn't even have a job. He joined Indian Railways and was then expected to play for them. Playing in the Plate League didn't excite him and he subsequently joined the ICL. His replacement was Sudeep Tyagi, a tall lively right-arm medium-pacer who took 19 wickets in his first two matches; yet Tyagi could have been warming the bench in the Under-22 tournament had Mohammad Kaif and Pandey, the coach, not picked him for senior tournament. That the bench is no longer studded with politicians' relatives is seen as a major advance in UP cricket. ** Given such poor infrastructure, who told UP they could win the Ranji Trophy and reach the final two years later? "If anybody other than us (the players, the coach, manager and physio) claims credit for this success, it is bulls**t," says one player. His anger underscores the team's greatest strength - tremendous self-belief in the face of all the roadblocks, the poor practising facilities, the substandard gyms, zero assistance. They knew they had come back from an identical situation two years ago, and they reminded themselves of that. In Kaif they have a leader who inspires; in Pandey a coach who was one of them last season and one they respect; and in Zaidi a manager who knew the art of taking wickets in Indian domestic cricket and is sharing it. Most of their youngsters have come up through the hostel system, which has been a successful conveyor belt for UP. Even before they reach the Ranji team, they have a sense of bonding having stayed in the same hostels and learned the game with each other. They are all ready to play, fight and go up or down together. Even before they reach the Ranji team, UP have a sense of bonding having stayed in the same hostels and learned the game with each other. They are all ready to play, fight and go up or down together Moreover, as Kaif says, "The players are very quick learners and hard workers." The hard work shows in their fielding: they are perhaps the best fielding side in the Ranji Trophy, what with Suresh Raina and Kaif leading the pack. Their major success, though, has come with the ball. Tyagi has bowled with the maturity that belies someone in his first season. He will most likely end the leading wicket-taker - his 39 wickets at 19.84 are one short of the leader D Vinay Kumar who is out of the competition and Praveen Kumar with 28 wickets at 16.42 has the next best tally for a bowler alive in the tournament. Kumar, who missed the first two matches, has come back and duly enhanced his reputation of being one of the hardest workers on field among the pace bowlers in domestic cricket. He, like Zaidi, seems to know how to take wickets in domestic cricket. The two have given them good starts in all the three matches they have won in their late surge to the finals. Between them they have bowled long spells (188.4 overs out of 363.1) and taken 32 wickets in the last three matches, with Piyush Chawla and Praveen Gupta forming a good spin tag team towards the end of the season. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a pluck from the U-19 side, has bowled steady right-arm medium pace and shown cricketing smartness with the bat. On a wicket - in the semi-final - where others found hard to score runs, he stayed at the wicket for 105 minutes, during which time the team scored 88 runs. A weak inexperienced batting line-up, especially with Raina fizzling out after a flying start, has been led and held together by Kaif. His 80 in the extremely low-scoring semi-final against Saurashtra was the difference between the two sides. The batting, apart from the two, has not looked special: they are still struggling for a pair of decent openers as was the case two years ago. As many as six have tried their hand at the dreaded job and just when Tanmay Srivastava and Rohit Prakash Srivastava seemed like forging a longish partnership, Tanmay had to go to play for India U-19. The young batsmen in the middle play too many shots, don't have the patience to build a long innings, and one wonders if video analysis wouldn't help. UP are a team easy to like - just like their captain. They are exciting to watch in the field, flashy with the bat, and never short of humour off the field. On sheer talent and grit, they have presented another story of success despite the system in India. Two years after their maiden success, nothing speaks of the system more than the fact that they are still an underdog story - it was endearing the first time round just like any underdog story is, but it is disappointing this time, a Ranji Trophy triumph should mean more. --------------------------------------------------------- This article underlines the lack of system or rather non existent system at the domestic level, with no infra-structure and nothing at all for the development of cricket at states like UP. Isn't it full credit to players then that they work hard and make it to Ranji final and some even qualify for international team? Do forummers still believe that BCCI is not to be blamed for this?

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Virat Kohli: A Delhi son shine story The seniors have helped me a lot, they told me I had it in me to do well and made me believe in myself, I owe them much. VIRAT KOHLI, Delhi cricketer VIRAT KOHLI is visibly uncomfortable. Sitting in the Delhi dressing room at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, India's new U19 skipper watches the unrelenting rain batter the venue of Delhi's match against Karnataka. He scored a superb 169 the previous day and HT has finally got the young man to sit and talk about himself. Kohli would have preferred to join teammates at the indoor nets at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). But success has its own price and for Kohli, it means not being able to always do what he would like to. "You guys go ahead, I'11 join you soon," Kohli tells his teammates as we settle down for a chat. Kohli's tale starts at the West Delhi Cricket Academy in Vikaspuri. He joined the centre as a 10-year-old and still practises there. "I always loved cricket and signed up for formal training pretty early," Kohli says. "I have learnt a lot in the academy" Standing out among peers At the academy among hopefuls his age and older: Kohli stood out as a player with promise. This catapulted him to the Delhi U-15 captaincy after just one season in the team. But that, as Kohli says, was just the beginning. "Though I scored tons of runs for the U15s, my big break was the season I had with the U-17 side," Kohli grins. So good was Kohli that he notched up 800 runs in just seven games at that level, including a double ton against Himachal during which, according to many who saw that knock, he hit the ball the hardest they'd seen. Kohli remembers that innings well. "That was my ticket to recognition. Hadn't I scored runs then, things would have been very different," he says with a sudden air of seriousness. Kohli never looked back after that, being called up for U-17 camps at the NCA. He shone there too and caught the eye of NCA coach and junior selector Praveen Amre who called him for an India U-19 camp. Passage to England In July 2006, Kohli made it to the India U-19 team's tour of England. "Seeing my name on that list was a little funny," Kohli smiles. "After all, I hadn't played for Delhi U-19, and suddenly there I was off to England with the national team!" But the choice wasn't without good reason, and that became clearer when, batting at his favourite No. 4, he became the highest scorer for India with 675 runs as India won the series. "It was a great feeling, scoring runs on foreign soil for my country... The wickets weren't easy to bat on, and that made me happier," Kohli says, glancing uneasily at the dool: perhaps wishing to escape to the nets. During the current tour to South Africa, Kohli scored 169 runs in 4 games, at an average of 42.25, justifying his elevation to the captaincy by leading his team to the title in the Tri-Nation tournament. And for someone who isn't even a regular nets bowler, he also took five wickets with his medium-pacers. Boy to man Conversation turns to Kohli's debut Ranji season, a season that taught him much in a very short span of time. It was, in many ways, the maturing of Virat Kohli, a coming of age. And he agrees. "My first Ranji season taught me a lot - it was a great learning curve, a perfeet opportunity to learn from players who had been around for a while," Kohli says. But that season taught him much more than just how to become a better cricketer - it taught him how to face life, triumph over tragedy and come out stronger Playing just his second Ranji game, Kohli showed maturity much beyond his years to rise above personal tragedy A day after he lost his father, Kohli hit a stirring, emotional 90 to bail Delhi out of trouble against Karnataka. He proved he had it in him, though he would have undoubtedly liked to pass this test in a different way. But Kohli is a strong man - the word 'boy' can't be applied to him any more - both physically and, more significantly mentally And teen again Kohli's career seems devoid of troughs though it isn't quite that. He mentions an U-19 tour of Sri Lanka when things were just not working out for him. He was unable to convert good starts into big scores. "I was falling to the flick so often that it was frustrating, so I decided to not play it at all." Kohli has come a long way since those days of self-doubt. He has learnt to wait and build an innings, to give himself time in the middle. Talking of his beginnings and his hopes, Kohli spoke with the maturity of a veteran. But then, in a flash, he is a teenager again. "Your favourite shot?" I ask him. "The flick, undoubtedly I love it."

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I think amidst all this hoopla, we don't miss this important news about India U-19's performance in SA. South Africa U-19s v India U-19s, 1st Test, Chatsworth Jadeja bowls India U-19s to victory Cricinfo staff January 13, 2008 India Under-19s 259 (Khadiwale 75, Kohli 65) and 82 for 3 (Srivastava 34*, Adams 2-16) beat South Under-19s 164 (Rossouw 83, Sangwan 3-37, Jadeja 2-12) and 176 (Malan 77, Jadeja 5-32) by seven wickets Scorecard India Under-19s continued their good form with a seven-wicket win over South Africa, to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. India's win was set up by their bowlers who restricted South Africa to less than 200 in both innings. Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, took seven in the match including 5 for 32 in South Africa's second innings. Bowling first, India put themselves in an excellent position after dismissing the hosts for a paltry 164. Only Riley Rossouw stood in their way with 83, and just two other batsmen reached double figures. Pradeep Sangwan took 3 for 37, while Harshad Khadiwale, Garikina Prasad and Jadeja bagged a couple each. Khadiwale then led India's reply, putting on an unbeaten century stand with Abhinav Mukund at the close of the first day's play. South Africa's bowlers performed little better on the second, restricting India to a lead of 95. Khadiwale, Mukund and Virat Kohli, the captain, scored fifties for India, but the rest of the batsmen failed to drive home the advantage. South Africa's top order then wiped clean the deficit, finishing day two on 116 for 1, leading by 21. However, India fought back on the final day to dismiss the hosts for 176, with Jadeja picking up five, leaving them a mere 82 to chase. India's batsmen needed only 15.4 overs to complete an emphatic seven-wicket win. Tanmay Srivastava was unbeaten on 34, while Roy Adams picked up two wickets in his three overs. The second and final match of the series begins in Chatsworth on January 16. ________________________________________________________ First of all, I wish there were more details in the report about how were our pacers or the spinners or batsmen. It seems as if the report has been prepared on the basis of the scorecard alone. Secondly, if a side is folding in front of extremely average left arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja, then that hardly says anything about the quality of the opposition. Thirdly, this match was not played on any of the main grounds that SA has and hence the effort of giving the exposure to our young players of the different pitches of SA has gone in vain as well. I don't think BCCI even cares about the venues or ground our players have to play in. So, in short, this tour is not achieving anything!!

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Now showing, Tyagi, the latest pace ace Nihal Koshie Tuesday, January 15, 2008 03:39 IST MUMBAI: Strapping young medium pacers are the flavour of the season with Uttar Pradesh’s Sudeep Tyagi rising up the bowling charts to become the second highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy’s Elite division going into the final. Rajastan’s Pankaj Singh, Delhi’s Ishant Sharma and Punjab’s VRV Singh have in the past 20 months made selectors sit up and take notice. Going by what Tyagi has done in his debut season, it may not be long before he is given greater responsibility. The Ranji final against a strong Delhi batting line-up, including Aakash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir, provides the chance for Tyagi to showcase his wares on domestic cricket’s biggest platform. It’s the 20-year-old’s first visit to Mumbai but is at ease while stepping into the foyer of the grand five-star team hotel. For someone as raw; with no academy-backed training, without a reputed coach and no godfather, Tyagi has a well-developed in-cutter - a delivery that has given him good purchase this season. When Tyagi made his debut against Bengal — a match in which he took 10 wickets — he had just three under-22 matches and two wickets under his belt. “I was picked for the under-17 team but didn’t get a game. I went for the Ranji trials in Kanpur and was picked for the camp. In the meantime, I played two under-22 games and then at the start of the season got my break,†Tyagi recalls. In his early days, Tyagi used to travel by bus from Ghaziabad to Meerut; four times a week, to take tips from former UP wicket-keeper Vipin Vats. But that was as sophisticated his training got. “Whatever skills I possess now is more or less natural. Once the season is over, I want to further hone my skills. Maybe I would go to the pace academy in Chennai.†Tyagi, a second year B.Com student, wants to increase his pace, add variety to his repertoire and learn the nuances of setting-up a batsman soon. “This season I have been focussed on bowling the good balls without trying to get a wicket every delivery. I just kept it plain and simple and didn’t clutter my mind with too many thoughts. So far it has worked.†Mohammad Kaif, the UP skipper, believes that Tyagi’s biggest strength is his ability to quickly learn, something that characterised the rise of left-arm seamer RP Singh. Ashish Winston Zaidi, a veteran of 110 first class games and now the team manager, believes that Tyagi indeed has the potential to make it big. So far, Tyagi seems on track. Chopra writing a book Delhi opener Aakash Chopra is penning a book on cricket that he hopes to publish before the next first-class season. Chopra has a book by his side whenever he travels and the idea of writing one has been in his mind for a while. “It is not a work of fiction, but will be based on what I have seen over the years. Obviously it is going to be about cricket, but I don’t want to reveal too much at this moment,†he said. At present he is reading a series containing four books, titled Emperor, on Julius Cesar. Among his favourite books are Lance Amrstrong’s It’s Not About The Bike, Every Second Counts, Nasser Hussain’s Playing with Fire and Mike Atherton’s Opening Up. Gambhir fit for tri-series Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir said that he has fully recovered from a shoulder injury that hampered his throwing arm and is now looking forward to play the tri-series in Australia. “The doctors advised me not to throw for three weeks and while I missed the game against Karnataka, in the next two matches I have been fielding at slips most of the time. Now, I am fully okay and can thrown from 85 yards out,†Gambhir, said. “I was taking pain-killers and playing but it got to a stage where the doctor told me that if I aggravate it, I could be out for five months. I was upset I wasn’t picked for the Test series in Australia because of the injury.â€

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DELHI VS UP: RANJI FINAL Delhi bring home the trophy after 16 seasons 20_01_2008_022_006_011.jpg Most teams are built around one player, one player who is above the rest, one player who the rest of the team looks up to when the chips are down, one player who has the ability to turn a game around. Most teams, however, don't win championships. It takes more than just one player to win a title - it takes an entire team. Each and every member of a squad has a role to play in success, prima donnas might catch the eye and look great doing what they do, but it's the foot soldiers that earn victory . Perhaps, this has been the reason for Delhi's success this Ranji season, the equal contribution by each and every member of the squad. Delhi is a side brimming with big names, names that have proved themselves at the international cricket, names that have won games for their country . But this season, these players were just names on a team sheet, they were all equals in a squad, everyone was playing for Delhi and that was all that mattered. No matter how big or small a player was, no matter how experienced or inexperienced he was, they gelled with each other, laughed with each other, played with each other and won with each other. Be it a Parwinder Awana or an Aakash Chopra, when on the field or off it, both were equals. And possibly, it was this parity in the treatment that got this bunch playing together as a team. In each of the nine games Delhi played this season there was at least one standout performance. It didn't seem to matter who delivered, as long as the results came. It is said that every win is a team effort, but if ever there was one in the true sense of the term, it is this. Every player has played a part, some small, some a little bigger, in this remarkable run to the top. Every match saw a hero emerge, one that got Delhi just that little bit closer to eventual glory. HT looks back at all those nine games and the men who made the difference. Game 1 vs Rajasthan The season got off to the worst possible start. Playing at home, the famed Delhi batting was bundled out for only 119 in the first innings. It looked like it would be yet another season of fighting relegation and controversy, with the team making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But that wasn't how it panned out. The bowlers, led by the debutant Pradeep Sangwan struck back in style, wiping Rajasthan out for 85 and give Delhi a most unlikely first innings lead. Mithun Manhas and Virat Kohli scored tons in the second innings to set a stiff target for the visitors. Rajasthan capitulated and Delhi won in style. Star of the show: Pradeep Sangwan. Though he did play the one-dayers last season, this was his first four-day game and he showed just why he was picked at just 17. A new star was born. Game 2 vs Saurashtra Delhi dropped points in this game, largely thanks to a superlative effort from Cheteshwar Pujara in the second innings. The batting failed in the first, but roared in the second. Sparkling centuries from Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan ensured Saurashtra had a stiff target to chase. In the end, Delhi fell just a wicket short of a win. Not that it mattered in the end, though. Stars of the show: Chopra and Dhawan Two contrasting centuries from the openers saw Delhi seize the initiative and take a loss out of the equation. It was power hitting at its best from Dhawan and another display of technical brilliance from Chopra. Game 3 vs Mumbai The big one. Up against the champions, this was Delhi's first real test this season. And they passed it rather comfortably . The pace duo of Sangwan and Ishant Sharma ran through Mumbai for 166, and the batsmen ensured Delhi had a first innings lead and three points to their name. Though Mumbai fought back, a ton from Gautam Gambhir and an 81 from Chopra saw the game drawn and Delhi take the points. Stars of the show: Chopra and Gambhir. The two big guns showed Mumbai who's the boss. Game 4 vs Himachal Pradesh The only blip this season. An inexplicable 75 all out saw Delhi concede the lead, but Chopra smacked a doubleton in the second, while Gambhir scored a century to avoid defeat. Stars of the show: Chopra and Gambhir. Do we need to say more? Game 5 vs Maharashtra This is where the season turned around. Delhi went to the group leaders' home and beat them hollow. Remarkable show. Stars of the show: Rajat Bhatia, Five wickets and a ton. Parwinder Awana, A hat-trick. Game 6 vs Karnataka Washed out, yet three centurions. Delhi's semifinal chances looked in danger after this game. Stars of the show: Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Mithun Manhas. All scored tons in the mammoth 538. Game 7 vs Tamil Nadu Had to win this, and they did. The bats chipped in, while Chetnya Nanda spun Delhi to victory with a fiver. Star of the show: Chetnya Nanda Semifinal vs Baroda Rather convincing win for Delhi. Amit Bhandari and Sumit Narwal got the wickets, while Manhas and Gambhir got the runs. Stars of the show: Bhandari, Narwal, Manhas and Gambhir. Final vs Uttar Pradesh Sangwan got a fiver, Chopra, Bhatia and Gambhir tons as Delhi produced a stirring fight-back in the title decider. Stars of the show: The entire team.

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WON BY - DELHI AS RANJI CHAMPIONS 399 runs vs Karnataka in Bangalore (1978-79) 240 runs vs Mumbai in Delhi (Kotla) (1979-80) 1st innings lead vs Karnataka in Delhi (Kotla) (1981-82) Inns & 141 runs vs Haryana in Delhi (Kotla) (1985-86) Inns & 210 runs vs Bengal in Delhi (Kotla) (1988-89) 1st innings lead vs Tamil Nadu in Delhi (Kotla) (1991-92) 9 wickets vs UP in Mumbai (WS) (2007-08) In a first of its kind for Delhi, the team won the final despite conceding a first innings lead. Memorable day for skipper Gambhir Not many teams in Ranji Trophy win a match after conceding the first innings lead. And not many teams chase a target of 230 successfully, that too in the final. Delhi did both and with conviction. And the man who guided them to their first title in 16 years was skipper Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir, out for a duck in the first innings, came out with an attacking mindset in the second essay The south . paw smacked the Uttar Pradesh bowlers during his unbeaten 130, which came off just 154 balls. Gambhir's knock - his second hundred in as many games - reinforced the saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". In fact, Gambhir had played a similar knock 10 days ago to help Delhi reach the final while chasing 271 against Baroda at Indore. "It's obviously a great feeling to be captaining the Delhi and winning the Trophy," Gambhir said later. The winners got a huge cash bonanza from the DDCA who announced an award of Rs 21 lakh in addition to the Rs 50 lakh they pocketed as prize-money . "A senior has to set an example for the youngsters. It's a special feeling to have shouldered the responsibility." Gambhir played his part to perfection on Friday when the chips were down. During the tea break on Day Three, when UP were going strong at 123 for two in their second innings, it was Gambhir's pep talk that spurred his teammates. "Gautam spoke some very positive things to the players during the tea break," said Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya. "He told the boys ‘we never win silver, we always lose gold', and the result is there for everyone to see." Delhi got four wickets for seven runs after the play resumed. Dahiya, who was a member of the Delhi team when it played the final and lost, was happy to have got his hands on the trophy in his first year as coach. "It's not my achievement, the players have won it," said Dahiya. "I just told them I had a dream which didn't materialise when I was playing and this was the best possible chance to do it." Gambhir said he felt proud holding the trophy "It's such a great feeling to have contributed to Delhi cricket," he said, adding "whenever people will talk about Delhi in the years to come, our names will always be mentioned."

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Delhi v Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy final, Mumbai Delhi toast changes with Ranji success Sriram Veera in Mumbai January 19, 2008 spacer.gif329825.jpgIt's time to the champagne to flow for Delhi © Cricinfo Ltd Coach Vijay Dahiya is standing up on the table. Shikhar Dhawan joins him there and the champagne and beer flow as the players dance around them to the tune of the popular song Mauja hi Mauja. The Delhi dressing room makes for a perfect postcard moment. Around this time last year, that Delhi postcard was a carrier of bad news. A few senior players were thinking of leaving the state for greener pastures. Virender Sehwag had an offer from Haryana, Gautam Gambhir and Mithun Manhas were gravitating towards Rajasthan while Aakash Chopra and Ashish Nehra too were on the verge of signing away their Delhi caps. They'd had enough of the political interference and selectorial conspiracies in the DDCA. There was an under-15 selector who was caught taking money for selections, another age-group selector had made salacious suggestions to the mothers of several young aspirants, and there was a case of a player sending goons to coerce the selectors in picking him. The same rigmarole existed in the 2005-06 season too. "You pick a squad from just 20-30 probables, not 50," the then coach Madan Lal said. "I am shocked to see the way affairs in DDCA are run. You don't need many people to run this, just a few honest people who will think only about cricket." Rewind to 1998 when Kirti Azad had resigned as a Delhi selector. "This is much worse than a political scene," Azad said. "How long can I tolerate such pressures and why should I be a party to the inner-politics of some members of the association?" Welcome to the capital mess. Last year the players were a disillusioned lot. Reason? A few of them allege that coach Chetan Chauhan didn't have much time for the team. "He was so busy with his media engagements that he would disappear during matches," a player said. "He was not focused on the team at all. We were only happy to see the back of him," another averred. Infrastructural speed-breakers kept tripping the team. They couldn't use the Feroz Shah Kotla as it was being renovated and were unhappy with the quality of the other grounds and practice facilities. And selection fiascoes were the last straw. It was then Arun Jaitley, the politician who happens to be the DDCA president, approached the senior players. Assurances were handed out individually that the new season will be free and clean of the dirty mess. "We have been gradually trying to immunise the selection process from any kind of associational activities," Jaitley said on Saturday. "The job at the start of the season was two-fold: let the players, coach and the selectors manage the cricketing activities, and the association provide good infrastructure. We made sure there wouldn't be any political or selectorial flaws." The senior players were consulted on who should be the new coach, and better practice facilities were provided. After Dahiya was nominated as the coach, he was given the job to get the team gelling as a unit. "He [Jaitley] said a better cricketing atmosphere would be created and it was my job to get the players working as a team," Dahiya said. "I am happy with the support from the administrators. We asked them for an early camp and I think we were one of the few teams that started as early as September. Manoj Prabhakar was brought in as the bowling consultant and that helped the bowlers. We had complete support from the selectors. Of course, there were a few talks on the selection but the atmosphere was cordial." It was important to get that feeling of winning Ranji Trophy. Because, there is no use playing first-class cricket if you play for a long time and don't experience that feelingGautam Gambhir, the Delhi captain It began to slowly pay off. The team management wanted to give everyone a chance in this season and barring Gaurav Chabria, everyone else has indeed been given a run. Gambhir, the captain, brought in the much-needed desperation to win. "One thing I wanted to do with Delhi was that it should hurt when they start losing," Gambhir said after the triumph. "We have seen all kinds of lows in the previous seasons; we faced relegation a couple of seasons back and we wanted to prove a point this season. "It was important to get that feeling of winning Ranji Trophy. Because, there is no use playing first-class cricket if you play for a long time and don't experience that feeling." In the end, that tilted the scale towards Delhi. UP had just won couple of years back, but Delhi had not got their hands on the trophy for 16 years and the desperation to win proved the difference. At tea on the fourth day, UP were sitting pretty with a 175-run lead, with eight wickets intact, when Gambhir addressed his team: "Remember, you don't win silver, you lose gold. If we go without giving our full effort there is no point in coming so far." Helped by some injudicious shot selection, Delhi scythed through UP, picking up four quick wickets for the addition of just seven runs. And on the morning of the fourth day, Dahiya told young Pradeep Sangwan, "I am retired, I haven't touched that thing [Ranji Trophy]. This is your first year, just go out there and give your best and enjoy." Sangwan cut through the lower half in a spell that read 5-3-5-3. And the game was over after the openers ensured that the dangerous Praveen Kumar went wicketless with the new ball. However, success masks many a flaw. Delhi had a video analyst but he didn't travel with them on tour and neither did they make full use of him. There were a couple of selections the Delhi papers went to town with but the players maintain that the changes were purely for cricketing reasons and there was no outside influence. Dahiya admits that perhaps Prabhakar should have been brought in earlier - say three months ahead of the season - as some of the players were wary about changing their techniques. He also wants someone like Bishan Bedi or Maninder Singh to be roped in to help the spinners. Delhi's biggest weak link is the lack of a quality spinner, showcased by the fact that they had bring back a 37-year-old Rahul Sanghvi ahead of the semi-finals. "The team is a much happier unit now and obviously, success hides many things," a player said. "I would say not everything is 100% perfect but things are definitely under control now." Under control is the operative word there and whether DDCA can continue to keep cricket as the sole focus, only time will tell. In the here and now, it's time for the beer to flow. The 16-year wait is over. -------------------------------------------------------- Impressive!! Arun Jaitley seems to be a good administrator. Hope every association gets one like him.

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Sangwan on a firm wicket 82792.jpgMy wickets have helped, no doubt, but our success has been a complete team effort: PRADEEP SANGWAN The sun is setting in Dharamsala and Delhi are making a late, late charge for victory over Himachal in the final session of the final day The tourists need five more wickets, the hosts, bad light. Ishant Sharma has just bowled his heart out to pick up four wickets, but no other bowler can follow up his fire from the other end, and Himachal hold on. Watching this drama unfold from the sidelines is a certain Pradeep Sangwan, sitting out with a twisted ankle. "I wished I could have played there, I could have made a difference," he later tells HT at Nagothane. And knowing the young man, he would have too. It has been a dream journey for this 18-year-old rookie. In his debut firstclass season, Sangwan has picked up 33 wickets at 19.24 from seven games to give Delhi the Ranji title after 16 years. "It has been great. I got wickets and the team won the title," Sangwan says, the satisfaction evident in his tone. And satisfied Sangwan should be too. For he has bowled with fire, intelligence and pace throughout the season to make a huge difference to De1hi's fortunes this season.Tell Sangwan that, however, and he just smiles sheepishly. "My wickets have helped, no doubt, but our success has been a team effort." Sangwan's journey starts in the bylanes of Najafgarh and the Tennis Ball cricket tournaments. Sangwan had a visitor during one of those matches. A.N. Sharma, better known as Virender Sehwag's coach, had heard about a young left-armer getting wickets by the dozen and decided to take a look. He obviously liked what he saw and soon took Sangwan under his wings. "Sir (Sharma) taught me a lot. He helped me become a better bowler," Sangwan says with humility. Whatever Sangwan learnt under Sharma, sure worked. He shone with the Delhi u-17s and 19s and was soon in the Ranji one-day squad. Sangwan did pretty well in the two games he played, picking up seven wickets. That stint with the senior side was, in a way, the start of Sangwan's rise. Having made it to the state team, the next natural progression was the national one. And that came too. Sangwan was soon spearheading the India u-19 pace attack, knocking batsmen over with alarming regularity Having done so well with the u-19s, Sangwan's inclusion to the Delhi Ranji Trophy squad this season was but a foregone conclusion. "He was one of the first names we decided on," said a selector after announcing the team. Sangwan soon became an integral part of the team, picking up wickets in almost every game. In fact, so vital Sangwan had become that the DDCA almost took on the BCCI to try and stop him from flying out to South Africa with the India u-19 squad. Though they couldn't hold on to him for the semis, Sangwan was back for the final against UP, back with a bang. In many ways, it was Sangwan who got Delhi the Trophy that sunny Saturday at the Wankhede. His five-for in the second innings stopped UP dead in their tracks, and gave Delhi a relatively easy target to chase. The way Sangwan moved the ball on a fourth day wicket to trouble the batsmen was a treat to watch and proof that he was on his way to becoming the finished article. If Sehwag is the Nawab of Najafgarh, Sangwan is the undoubted heir apparent. But Sangwan assures this is just the beginning. "I want to do much better:" he says. So, how soon does he hope to play for the country? "I should be there in two years," he replies without batting an eyelid. It is this rare mixture of confidence and humility that has had people talking about Pradeep Sangwan as a player who not only looks the part of a matchwinner; but plays it too. And that's not all he has to live up to - Sangwan even has a wager with his teammate and buddy Ishant Sharma to see who between the two gets more wickets this season. Kids, after all, will be kids. ------------------------------------------------ Hope the kid is taken care of and makes rapid strides!!!

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just 17, its good that he got this ranji expsoure..and also performed well.. another season and tw0 would be good for him and its nice that being part of u19 team he would get to tour difff countries and get a feel of it.. went to saf alredy..
And played at some unknown venue. We don't know what kind of pitch that venue had. Whats the point of sending your U-19 squad or A team to different countries if they don't get to play at the main venues where the senior team will play? We went to Australia in 2006 with A team but played at Cairns and Darwin. What kind of exposure does that give? Will the senior team ever play there? So where is the exposure of playing on seaming/bouncy tracks? Just the name SA or Australia should not suffice. But who will explain that to BCCI??

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Summary of Ranji 2007-08 Winning the final inside four days, after conceding a first innings lead to rival UP, demanded high commitment levels. The Delhi captain Gautam Gambhir said he did not have to say much to spark a fightback except provoke pride. Nandakumar Marar reports. 20080209502502601.jpgThe triumphant Delhi team. The turnaround for Delhi in Ranji Trophy, from the brink of relegation a couple of seasons ago to a podium finish in the 2007-08 Elite group as India’s champion side, is a little difficult to explain. Damage control in place of chaos was the operative word here, with administrators reviewing their approach regarding team selection. The senior players took a step forward by gaining a voice in the choice of coach. Vijay Dahiya came on as team coach and Manoj Prabhakar as bowling coach. A feeling of commitment seeped in with players, coaches and administrators trying to move in the same direction despite differences. As skipper Gautam Gambhir put it after Delhi’s nine-wicket win over Uttar Pradesh at the Wankhede Stadium, self-belief and hunger for success overcame negative thoughts and cynicism as the team remained a step ahead of the opposition. “I do not think about matters not in my control,†replied Gambhir, evading tricky queries about Delhi cricket politics spilling over to cricket. When the moment of reckoning arrived, the captain was there to goad his players into action. “I wanted Delhi to feel the hurt when they start losing. We have experienced all kinds of lows earlier, it was important for the players to feel the highs also.†The India opener had deeds to back his words, back-to-back tons in the second innings in the semifinals (versus Baroda) and final (versus UP) when Delhi chased targets, projecting him as a natural leader whose batting did not get bogged down due to responsibility. “The team was gelling well, peaking at the right time this season. I urged the players to make the most of it. We don’t know what will happen next time,†said Gambhir, toughened by the personal experience of being asked to prove his batting ability in the longer version of the game. Winning the final inside four days, after conceding a first innings lead to rival UP, demanded high commitment levels. The captain said he did not have to say much to spark a fightback except provoke pride. “It is important to experience that feeling of winning the Ranji Trophy. I told the boys that there is no use playing first-class cricket for a long time and not experience that feeling.†Gambhir’s personal example, bettering a zero in the first innings with an unbeaten 130 in the second (17 fours, 155 balls) in Delhi’s charge for victory, was critical. 20080209502502602.jpgGautam Gambhir... a splendid hundred in the second innings. Pradeep Sangwan, the young pace bowler, had bowled a fiery spell of 5-3-5-3 earlier to give UP, riding a 175-run first innings lead, the second innings blues. The urgency to seize the moment separated the champion from the challenger as Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan ensured against any shocks. Virender Sehwag, known to speak his mind without fear of consequences, telephoned from Perth to inquire about his state side’s progress. The presentation ceremony was on, so the senior spoke to Gambhir later and conveyed his greetings to the team. If Sehwag’s interest in the Ranji final was proof of the bonding within, there were others showing exceptional commitment. Rajat Bhatia’s all-round display in the final (139 not out, two wickets and two catches) was an example of a quiet achiever working in the background. Prabhakar worked on the pace bowlers, convincing Sangwan, Sumeet Narwal, Amit Bhandari, Bhatia and even Ishant Sharma (prior to the Australia tour) on the merits of putting the ball in the right areas depending on the wicket behaviour and match situation. “Delhi did not have a specialist spinner, so the fast bowlers got the job done. I tried to pass on my knowledge and experience of Indian wickets, worked on Ishant’s approach to the bowling crease and showed Sangwan the benefit of bowling with a high-arm action,†said one of India’s best known exponents of swing bowling, Manoj Prabhakar. He also stressed how important sporting wickets were in the development of first-class cricket and appreciated the BCCI’s decision to play the Ranji final at the Wankhede Stadium, a neutral venue. “I have not come across such a sporting wicket in Mumbai in my entire career,†said the Delhi bowling coach, referring to curator Sudhir Naik’s handiwork. “The bowlers got help from the wicket, the batsmen were tested even on the fourth day, centuries were scored. India needs such types of wickets at all centres hosting first-class matches. Centres should be given help in preparing sporting tracks, with the threat of punishment or fines to associations making wickets to suit the home team’s strengths.†Dilip Vengsarkar, chairman of selectors and witness to Indian batsmen’s difficulties against the moving ball, too appreciated the neutral venue policy. “Next time, even the Ranji Trophy semifinals should be played at neutral venues, so that the contest between batsmen and bowlers takes place on sporting wickets,†observed the ex-India Test and former Mumbai Ranji captain, after handing over the trophy to Gambhir. He was present along with Sanjay Jagdale and Bhupinder Singh for the Elite final. 20080209502502603.jpgPraveen Kumar with skipper Md. Kaif. The UP medium pacer bagged eight wickets in the first innings. The three selectors watched UP pace sensation Praveen Kumar rattle the Delhi batsmen in the first innings with a rich haul of 8-68 (amidst centuries by Aakash Chopra and Bhatia). Prabhakar emphasised that this was the right time to expose Praveen to international cricket. “He is young, hungry for recognition and so will be eager to learn quickly about the adjustments needed. You have to keep improving at a constant rate,†said the Delhi coach, pointing to Ishant’s growing reputation as a young tearaway in Australia. Gujarat overcame the embarrassment of relegation from the Elite group with a collective, conscious effort to climb out of the hole and were rewarded with the Plate group title at the Railways’ expense. “The players were upset when the relegation happened. We were told that the standard in the Plate division was low and that performances don’t count,†explained captain Parthiv Patel, putting Gujarat’s fall and rise in perspective. “We, the players, took a collective decision that qualification for the Elite group would be our first priority. I’m happy we ended up winning the Plate championship.†The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) chipped in with cash incentives for team and individual efforts. “The GCA announced Rs. 1 lakh for reaching the semifinals, Rs. 3 lakh for winning the Plate final and Rs. 2000 each for players scoring 100, taking five wickets or five catches,†said Parthiv, for whom the prospect of competing in the Plate group after tasting the popularity of being an international cricketer can be imagined. He excelled in batting and wicket-keeping roles and also kept the players focussed on the task at hand. Niraj Patel in the middle-order, fast bowlers Ashraf Makda, Siddharth Trivedi and off-spinner Mohnish Parmar offered timely support. Newcomers Amit Singh and Jay Mehta held their nerve in tense situations. Gujarat chased a victory target of 150 set by the Railways at the Brabourne Stadium, sneaking home by one wicket and in the process creating a unique record of three teams from one state (Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra) in the Ranji Elite league in 2008. Parthiv felt that the craze for cricket in the region and development efforts taken up by state associations like the GCA at the junior levels were instrumental for this happy state of affairs. Saurashtra’s phenomenal performance in 2007-08 drew everyone’s attention. Parthiv pointed out the reasons: “Cheteshwar Pujara had an outstanding run with the bat, Sandeep Jobanputra’s bowling helped Saurashtra and Sitanshu Kotak is known for getting runs under pressure. Any team with two or three such standout performers will go far, so you know why the side progressed to the Elite semifinals.†Rebuilding, and doing it well, too Uttar Pradesh and Indian Railways, the Elite and Plate runners-up, are going through a rebuilding phase. Thus their progress to the final ahead of established sides is creditable. UP’s flow of natural talent and Railways’ move to induct youth will help the two former Ranji champions to emerge stronger. It will be a big bonus, too, if they can get training facilities on a par with organised set-ups like Karnataka or Mumbai. UP lost the gifted Shalabh Srivastava to the Indian Cricket League, while veterans Ashish Zaidi and Gyanendra Pandey have opted for coaching. A raw talent from the U-22 ranks, fast bowler Sudeep Tyagi, has made a big impact. The depth of cricketing talent in the state can be gauged from the fact that the youngster, overlooked by the state U-22 selectors, caught captain Mohd. Kaif’s attention and Kaif along with Ranji coach Pandey drafted Tyagi into the senior ranks. Fast bowlers hunt in pairs, so Tyagi and India one-day bowler Praveen Kumar formed a lethal new ball combination under Zaidi’s guiding hand. Praveen’s eight-wicket burst in the final was a stunning exhibition of controlled swing bowling. Tanmay Srivastava, an India U-19 player, but already making a name in Ranji Trophy, played a polished knock for UP in the first innings against Delhi. Railways are back where they belong, the Elite division, after qualifying for the Plate final at the Brabourne Stadium. Ranji Trophy winners at one time, the horror of relegation to the Plate league was compounded by the loss of all-rounder J. P. Yadav, batsman Shreyas Khanolkar and T. P. Singh to the ICL. These three are good players capable of turning a match around. The team management kept faith in Abhay Sharma’s player-management ability and the ex-Ranji skipper and current coach drafted in the young Harshad Rawle and Karan Sharma. Mahesh Rawat, a gifted wicket-keeper from Haryana, joined the squad and as the season progressed, the pieces fell into place. Sharma already had a core group of internationals in Murali Kartik, Sanjay Bangar, Harvinder Singh and the experienced spinner Kulamani Parida. A motivated Railways side almost snatched the Plate title, losing by just one wicket after a stunning show of swing bowling by Sanjay Bangar reduced Gujarat to 78-4 and then 143-9 in the second innings. Eventually, the Gujarat tailenders survived tense moments before the unflappable Jay Desai took the team home. Railways and Gujarat can give any Elite group team a tough time, Saurashtra came within one match away from the final. So, apart from a new Elite champion in Delhi, the struggle faced by last year’s champion Mumbai and the partial eclipse of two-time finalist Bengal, relegated to the Plate category, shows how the Ranji Trophy has become a tough competition. No spectators Sporting wickets, but virtually empty stands greeted the Ranji Trophy Elite finalists at the Wankhede Stadium and the Plate finalists at the Brabourne Stadium. The players, coaches and selectors relished the contest between bat and ball on neutral tracks, which made for engrossing cricket. At the same time, the absence of spectators for India’s premier domestic competition can be attributed to home team Mumbai’s absence from either final. Should the BCCI continue with the policy of hosting Ranji finals at neutral venues, even if it means risking the possibility of India’s best first-class teams performing in front of only a few die-hard fans? Dilip Vengsarkar, chairman of selectors, argues strongly in favour of neutral venues. “Mumbai played a few Ranji league games against other teams at the Wankhede this season, the stands were still empty except for a few cricket followers. So instead of focussing on attracting spectators, let us have good cricket on sporting wickets, so that the Ranji finals result in a test of players’ skills.†The last time Wankhede Stadium buzzed with noise and excitement from the stands with crowds coming to watch cricket was during the 2006-07 final between Mumbai and Bengal. Vengsarkar points out that the presence of stars in both the teams brought in fans. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly were among the crowd-pullers in the five-day final. “People came to see Sachin and Ganguly. The number of fans coming to cheer the home team were few in comparison,†Vengsarkar said. Apart from the big two, the Mumbai-Bengal contest saw other India players — Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar and Rohit Sharma — in the home team and Rohan Gavaskar and Ranadeb Bose in the opposition. So Ranji finalists at full strength, competing on sporting wickets at neutral venues is of more value to Indian cricket than home advantage. The BCCI’s scheduling becomes more critical, to avoid an overlapping of dates between Ranji finals and India’s overseas tours. Delhi missed captain Virender Sehwag and pace ace Ishant Sharma in the Elite final, Uttar Pradesh did not have R. P. Singh to open the attack. Team India’s tour of Australia clashed with the final dates.To complicate matters, the India U-19 tour of South Africa was also on, forcing the Board to release Delhi’s Pradeep Sangwan and UP’s Tanmay Srivastava for the Mumbai match-up. But it declined Delhi’s request for India U-19 captain Virat Kohli. Two India players can’t play, nor can the national junior skipper join his state team in a five-day game to decide India’s champion side. Delhi still won, but need future Ranji champions suffer for want of match-winners, because India needs them more? Prize money list: Ranji Elite champion Rs. 50 lakh (Delhi), runner-up Rs. 25 lakh (Uttar Pradesh). Losing semifinalists: Rs. 10 lakh each (Baroda and Saurashtra). Ranji Plate champion Rs. 25 lakh (Gujarat), runner-up: Rs. 15 lakh (Indian Railways). Losing semifinalists: Rs. 7.5 lakh each (Kerala and Madhya Pradesh).

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