Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet the Future Stars of Indian Cricket

One more Ranji trophy season is over. Defending champions Mumbai beat Karnataka by 6 runs in this years’ final. Every Ranji season brings a few talented young cricketers to the limelight. This year was no exception. Again this season has shown that bench strength of Indian cricket is very strong. Here are three youngsters who did wonders this year in Ranji Trophy and may be the next superstars of Indian cricket.

Ajinkya Rahane

This 21 year old from Mumbai is the top scorer this season in Ranji Trophy. Rahane has scored close to 800 runs this year at an average of over 87 with three centuries and three fifties with 265* being his highest score this year. This is what cricinfo website has as Rahane’s profile-

Ajinkya Rahane is a flashy top-order Mumbai batsman who, with 1089 runs in his second Ranji season, was a crucial factor in Mumbai's 38th title win. Only 11 players have scored 1000 runs in a single Ranji season, and that puts his effort in perspective. Rahane's progression to the Mumbai Ranji team was a natural one - he had represented them at all age levels, and was always seen as a prospective Mumbai player if not more. His bumper Ranji season followed an impressive showing in last year's Duleep Trophy, where he scored 172 against an England Lions attack that comprised Monty Panesar, Steve Kirby and Liam Plunkett. That innings came after followers of Mumbai cricket had started to write him off as a a fine talent but fit only to make a swift 50. Two years later, he had shown they were way off.

Manish Pandey

Twenty year old lad born in Uttaranchal, who made Karnataka his home is the second leading run scorer in Ranji Trophy this season. Manish has scored over 700 runs this season at an average of over 61 that includes three centuries and four fifties. Cricinfo website has the following as Manish’s profile

Manish Pandey will always be remembered as the first Indian to score a century in the IPL. In one night, the 19-year-old went from being Karnataka's next big Ranji hope to entering the record books as he hit his way to the highest Twenty20 score by an Indian. That century also probably meant he wouldn't have to carry out his intention of following his father into the army if he didn't make it as a professional cricketer. His batting anyway is not built on military discipline; Pandey has always been a free-scoring aggressive middle-order batsman and an athletic fielder.

His trademark half-sweep-half-flick - where he shapes to go for the sweep but just stretches towards the ball and flicks it, mostly towards midwicket - was quite the talk of the junior circles in Bangalore. That shot was on ample display when he scored two half-centuries in his first two Ranji Trophy matches, in the 2008-09 season. He came to Bangalore when he was 15 and stayed back when his father was transferred to Rajasthan three years later.

In those three years Pandey came to be well-regarded in the KSCA league, represented Karnataka at the Under-17 and Under-19 levels, and was always marked for a Ranji cap. He also represented India in the U-19 World Cup in 2008, though he didn't get many chances in that winning side.

R Vinay Kumar

R Vinay Kumar - another reason why Karnataka is in finals of Ranji Trophy this year. This 25 year old lad has taken 47 wickets this season at a strike rate of 38.5. Incredible feat for a fast bowler considering the nature of the wickets first class cricket is played in India. This is what cricinfo has in Vinay Kumar’s profile

R Vinay Kumar was given the responsibility of leading Karnataka's attack after the talented quartet - Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad, Dodda Ganesh and David Johnson - retired. A long apprenticeship was followed by his being picked for the Ranji Trophy in 2004-05. He quickly established himself, taking more than 20 wickets in each of his first three seasons. The 2007-08 season has been his best yet, finishing as the second-highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy, with 40. That and a batting strike-rate hovering around 100 in the shorter versions of the game convinced the Bangalore Royal Challengers to get him on board for the Indian Premier League.

A Mithun

Another fast bowler from Karnataka who did really great this season - Mithun has a haul of 46 wickets, just one less than R Vinay Kumar. The performance of this 20 year old this year has brought instant comparison with one of the greatest fast bowlers India and Karnataka has produced – Javagal Srinath. This is what cricinfo website has to tell about this talented bowler-

Mithun's 38 wickets, one less than country-wide leader Vinay Kumar, has been one of the keys to extracting Karnataka from the rut of mediocrity they had been trapped in over the past few years. He jumpstarted the season with a match-winning 11 wickets on debut, including a hat-trick, against Uttar Pradesh in Meerut, that earned instant comparisons with the last Karnataka bowler to take three-in-three in his first game - Srinath.

Good to see so many talents coming up in Indian Cricket. Hopefully all of them make it big in international cricket.

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