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State’s dismal Ranji show

- Outstation recruits blamed for team’s debacle

As neighbour Bengal beat Railways in a thrilling encounter at Eden Gardens on Sunday to seal a place in the last four in the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy, many wondered what happened to Team India skipper M.S. Dhoni’s home state Jharkhand.

The state side has again been relegated to Group C after a consistent lacklustre season, despite having two internationals in Saurabh Tiwary and Varun Aaron and promising cricketers like Ishank Jaggi and Shabaz Nadeem in the team.

The Shahbaz Nadeem-led side, which reached the quarter-final in the 2012-13 season and qualified for Group A directly from Group C, is at the bottom of the points table this time.

Jharkhand managed just nine points from eight matches.

The state outfit lost three matches outright — against Haryana, Odisha and Punjab — and drew four versus Karnataka, Gujarat, Mumbai and Vidarbha, while the encounter against Delhi was washed out.

Barring Tiwary and opener Rameez Nemat, other batsmen failed to rise to the occasion. The former scored 854 runs in seven matches at an average of 65.69, while Nemat averaged 42.90 in the same number of matches, scoring 472 runs.

Batting mainstay Ishank Jaggi regained form when Jharkhand were virtually out of the reckoning. The Jamshedpur batsman scored a century versus Mumbai and 50s against Vidarbha and Punjab.

In bowling department, speedster Varun Aaron picked up 20 wickets, while leggie Samar Quadri finished with 17.

Other bowlers, including Nadeem himself, did not perform to expectation.

But why did a team which made it to the quarter-final last season cut such a sorry figure? Did the side not do its homework well or some other factors led to the debacle?

If sources are to be believed, factionalism among players had a negative impact on the team’s performance.

Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA)’s decision to include two outstation players — Bhavik Thaker and Bhawin Thakkar — did not go down well with the team.

Both the frontline batsmen fared poorly. The former played six matches and scored 244 runs at an average of 22.18 only, while the latter turned out in four matches and finished with an overall score of 208 runs at a slightly better average of 29.71.

The team management gave them a long run, overlooking home talents, other players felt.

“These two outstation players acted like mentors on the field. They kept on telling us how to field, bat and bowl. Their presence in the team was very frustrating to say the least,” said a senior player, not willing to be named.

Axing wicket-keeper-batsman Shiv Prakash Gautam (two matches, 79 runs at an average of 39.50) also defied logic. He was replaced by Pappu Kumar Singh, who did miserably in the four matches he played. He scored only 86 runs at a poor average of 10.75.

JSCA assistant secretary Ashim Kumar Singh said, “The senior side did not come up with a solid show. We have to ascertain what led to the debacle and chalk out remedial measures so that we don’t commit the same mistakes in the next season.”

Besides Ranji Trophy, the Under-25, Under-19, Under-16, senior and junior women’s teams also did not qualify for the knock-out stage of any of the tournaments.

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