With the Ranji Trophy moving towards the final phase of the Group stage, we take a detailed look at how the next round would look.
The inaugural round of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season is heading into its final leg with the qualification for the quarterfinals looming large. As the teams fight it out for one last time, we take a detailed look at how the groups stand.
For the uninitiated, here is how teams will qualify for the Knockout stages:
• Top 5 teams from Groups A and B qualify for the quarterfinals.
• Top 2 teams from Group C qualify for the quarterfinals.
• The top team in the Plate Group qualify for the quarterfinals.
Group A and Group B
Even though Group A table-toppers Vidarbha have a massive 28 points lead in the points table, they can hardly afford to take the final fixture against Saurashtra lightly. Their odds of not qualifying may be slim (if Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bengal win while Vidarbha loses to Saurashtra), but they may not be banished away.
As for Delhi, Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Railways, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, they are all out of the race for the last-eight (irrespective of their round 9 results).
On the other hand, Karnataka (27 points), Gujarat & Saurashtra (26 points each), Madhya Pradesh (24), Himachal Pradesh & Bengal (22), Kerala, Punjab & Baroda (20 points each) — all have a massive chance in the two elite groups to make it to the Knockouts.
However, the uncomfortable closeness in points means that the scenarios for qualification for each of them will not be merely resting in their hands, but on how their competitors play as well.
It becomes an efficient game of permutations and combinations here.
Bengal had put Delhi out of the reckoning in round 8 as Abhimanyu Easwaran scored 183 runs in the fourth innings to chase down a stiff target of 322. The win gave his team six points, further keeping their hopes in the tournament alive.
After playing all the 8 fixtures, Gujarat has 26 points in their kitty. That figure leaves them tied up with Saurashtra at the third position. However, since Saurashtra and most of the other teams below them have a match in hand, it will be difficult to say if the team will be in the top 5 at the end of January 10. Nonetheless, a win for Karnataka over Baroda should most probably see them qualify.
Update: At the time of writing, Karnataka had bowled out Baroda for 112 and had a lead of 26 runs. Saurashtra is playing strongly with a 301/7 score against Vidarbha.
As for Himachal Pradesh, they have a 232 runs lead over Kerala. Bengal is also in pole position with a 26 runs lead in the second innings.
Probable Qualifiers: Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat
Rajasthan booked their ticket for the last eight with an emphatic 10-wicket win over Goa in last round, pushing them to an unassailable 44 points tally at the top. They are preceded by Uttar Pradesh who have 38 points and are the most likely team to qualify for the final. Up until Round 7, Jharkhand was in the offing with UP as well, but they messed up their chances by drawing against Tripura. That left them 5 points adrift the second-placed Uttar Pradesh.
If they are to qualify for, Jharkhand will have to win big against J&K in the Round 9 and hope that Uttar Pradesh loses against Assam. Even if that doesn’t happen, Jharkhand can still qualify, courtesy of a bonus point.
Odisha and Assam (20 points each), J&K, Services (19 points each) and Haryana, Tripura, and Goa have bowed out of the competition in the Group C.
Update: Rajasthan further extended their lead with a big 77 run & an inning win against Tripura.
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) January 8, 2019
Jharkhand’s chances of qualifying are getting dimmer by the day since a wet outfield in Jammu has seen the game delayed.
UP, on the other hand, are comfortably on their way to the last eight after bowling out Assam for 175.
Probable Qualifier: Uttar Pradesh
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Uttarakhand is the unchallenged champions in the Plate group, having amassed 37 points. They should qualify for the quarterfinals without much discomfort. Puducherry and Bihar are the only teams that have an outside chance for the same.
Bihar, with 34 points, stands second in the Plate Group. They will need to win their match against Manipur, preferably with a bonus point, if they are to go through. Also, they will need Uttarakhand to lose against Mizoram or even get anything more than a first innings lead.
Puducherry, on the other hand, stands third with 32 points and play Nagaland in the last round. Even though the odds are slim, they can still make it to the last 8 if two fixtures go their way – 1. Uttarakhand loses and 2. Bihar does not get anything more than a first innings lead.
Update: The result of the Plate group may well be decided with Mizoram trailing by a massive 287 runs at 90/4 against Uttarakhand, who looks set to bag the last round and the qualification in the process.
Probable Qualifier: Uttarakhand