The domestic as well as the international arena has witnessed some mind-blowing cricketing action over the last week or so. At the international stage, the much awaited Asia Cup ODI contest kicked off with the Asian giants locking horns with each other. Afghanistan did no harm to their ever-improving reputation by sealing a place in the second round of the tournament among cricketing giants like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It will be interesting to see out of these four who will eventually qualify for the grand finale at Dubai.
Apart from the Asia Cup, cricket fans across the globe can also satiate their hunger for action with multiple domestic cricket action going on at this moment. The Vijay Hazare trophy and the County Championships have been providing some excellent competitions. At these competitions, many of our boys have displayed some sublime performances that need special mention. Let us quickly check out how well they have done:
Ajinkya Rahane – The Run Machine
Ajinkya Rahane ended the tour of England with some fine batting displays. He continued his fine form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy where he is captaining the Mumbai side. In the first match of the tournament, he scored an unbeaten 79 off 116 against Baroda. His partnership with the young Prithvi Shaw is something which is proving to be the USP of the Mumbai side. However, this innings was just the glimpse of what was to come.
The marquee contest between Mumbai and defending champions Karnataka saw Ajinkya Rahane at his best. He built a wonderfully crafted innings of 148 off 150 balls to post a humongous score of 362. He showed his experience and played the anchor role allowing the likes of Prithvi Shaw and an in-form Shreya Iyer to blossom and play their natural game. His captaincy and maturity is perhaps the reason why Mumbai have started the tournament with a winning streak.
Unadkat Shows his Class
Unadkat has started the new season with a bang. He started his campaign for Saurashtra in Group B match against the Uttar Pradesh team by cutting short UP’s 304 run chase by dismissing lower-order batsmen Upendra Yadav, Saurabh Kumar and Mohsin Khan while conceding just 42 runs. Unadkat followed this up with effective and economical spells in Saurashtra’s loss against an in-form Delhi team. He conceded only 36 runs in that match while accounting for the wickets of opener Unmukt Chand and a well-settled Dhruv Shorey.
However, his best performance in this season’s Vijay Hazare Trophy came in the match against Hyderabad where he decimated the opposition with a display of skilled pace bowling. He frustrated the opposition captain Akshath Reddy by giving him no scoring opportunity. This resulted in his dismissal for seven runs off 23 balls in the sixth over of the match. Despite a slow and difficult start, Hyderabad was just getting back into the match. However, Unadkat nipped their hopes in the bud by claiming the wickets of Bhavanaka Sandeep, Ashish Reddy and T.Ravi Teja to a score of 196/9 from the allocated 45 overs (delayed start). Unadkat’s 4-33 helped Saurashtra get a crucial victory in this crucial match at Delhi.
Captain Courageous – Prashant Chopra
The Himachal Pradesh captain and our very own Royal Prashant Chopra has led from the front with two spirited performances this past week. In the first match for Himachal Pradesh against Punjab, Chopra put his side in a great position while chasing a score of 291. He played according to the situation of the match and scored a patient 95. However, a late batting collapse, started by his dismissal saw the Himachal Pradesh lose six wickets for just 41 runs. This collapse ended up costing the Himachal Pradesh side, losing the encounter.
Saxena and Kulkarni Wreaks Havoc
Jatin Saxena’s experience was in full bloom when he put up a splendid exhibition of leg-break bowling for Chhattisgarh against the much-fancied Uttar Pradesh side in the Group B encounter. He first made his presence felt by breaking a promising 82 run opening partnership by accounting for the wicket of Shivam Chaudhary. In the later stage of the innings, Saxena broke the back of the UP middle-order by dismissing Akshdeep Nath, Saurabh Kumar and Shiva Singh cheaply. His bowling effort of 4/56 meant that Chhattisgarh was able to restrict UP to a score of 250, which they were able to chase down in the last over of the match.
Another experienced campaigner who started the latest Vijay Hazare Trophy with a bang is Mumbai-lad Dhawal Kulkarni. In the Mumbai vs. Baroda match Kulkarni was the chief destroyer as he accounted for the wickets of Yusuf Pathan for 40, Pinal Shah, Rishi Arothe and Babashafi Pathan. His consistent nagging line and his patience helped him finish with match-winning figures of 4/39. We hope Kulkarni continues his performances to help his team put a strong challenge for the trophy.
Jofra Archer Continues his March
Ever since Jofra Archer was signed up by Sussex, he has proven to be a massive asset for the team. In the latest county championship second division match, Archer once again proved his worth when he produced a disciplined bowling performance against Warwickshire. What stood out was his line and length which the Warwickshire batsmen found extremely difficult to score off. This was reflected in his economy rate which was just over two runs per over. Besides his tally of 4 wickets also showed how penetrative his bowling could be. He dismissed middle-order batsmen, Keith Barker and Chris Wright, while also making short work of tail-enders Olly Stone and Ryan Sidebottom. We hope Archer continues his fine form and goes from strength to strength.
In the coming week, we have the exciting final round of the Asia Cup to look forward to, while also the next rounds of the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the County Championship. We will thus surely be back with the best performances of our favourite Royals. Halla Bol!