Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orissa in the Ranji Trophy

This team came in last place in the recently concluded Group A of the Ranji Trophy Elite league. Their 2011 season did not include a single win in 7 games; and all they had to show for their efforts were 3 draws among 4 losses.

The team's position at the bottom of the table is a clear function of a squad that mostly consists of bit players with poor stats. None of them are household names and one can't see this situation changing any time soon. Just 3 of their batsmen have a batting average above 30.0; while only 1 bowler has a bowling average below that.

On a positive note, any youngsters about to break into the state team can eagerly await a call-up as this is one side that's carrying a lot of deadwood. There should be quite a few spots available in this Orissa side by the start of the next season. Also, Orissa has a history of providing its youngsters with opportunities to play first-class cricket, and this squad had an average age at debut of just over 21.

The 16 member squad has an average age of 25, the youngest member is 20 while the oldest among them is 30. Their entire cumulative experience amounts to 251 matches over 61 seasons. The relative inexperience of the team is mostly on account of the inclusion of 5 debutants in the squad this season.

Players who should be let go:
The following 5 players have had the opportunities to prove themselves at this level, but haven't been able to make a case for continued selection in the future. Some of them have surprisingly poor stats and this may well be a reflection of the lack of competition for spots in this team. However, its about time some youngsters were blooded here, at any rate they'd have some difficulty being worse than these five.

  1. The oldest member of the team is 30 year-old Subit Biswal, who should be a very worried man. He made his debut in 2002 at the age of 20, but has played only 27 matches over the last 10 seasons. Having bowled only 18 deliveries at the first class level his primary role is very obviously that of a batsman. However, with a career batting average of only 22.93 he ranks only 132nd among all players in this league. I'd be very surprised to see him return for next season.
  2. Another candidate for relegation is 27 year-old Paresh Patel. Another lad who made his debut at the age of 20 in 2005, but has played only 17 matches over the last 7 seasons. Paresh has a batting average of just 24.59 from 27 innings and 8 wickets at almost 71 runs apiece. He comes in at 127th in the batting average ranks.
  3. 27 year-old Bikas Pati is a batsman with an incredible average of just 19.35 from 48 innings. His first-class career has spanned 30 matches over 6 seasons. How he managed to keep his spot so long is definitely a point to ponder. He ranks 150th in the batting averages, and with just 20 legal deliveries to his name he doesn't make a case for inclusion as a part-time bowler either.
  4. Dhiraj Singh, a 25 year-old spin bowler made his debut in 2008. Since then he has a tally of 45 wickets from 17 matches at a very expensive average of 41.56 apiece, which puts him outside the top 100 bowlers in the league.
  5. Preetamjit Das is a 26 year-old medium pacer who doesn't get too many matches. He made his debut in 2006 but has played only 11 games since then. With a haul of 25 wickets at an expensive 34.60 runs apiece he ranks 74th in the league. He gets his wickets at an average of 2.27 every match, has an economy rate over 3.1 per over and strikes every 66 deliveries. He just might be able to hang onto his place if there aren't any decent young bowlers pushing for a place in the state team.


Lone-star:
A rare bright spot in this dreary mire

  1. 26 year-old medium pacer Basant Mohanty is a rarity in this team, he's ranked 10th in the overall bowling averages. Having made his debut at 21, he's now played 34 matches over 5 seasons. With 125 wickets at 23.54 runs each, he averages 3.68 wickets per match, leaks only 2.44 runs every over and gets a wicket every 57.8 deliveries. At this level, Basant ranks at 13th for wickets per match and at 14th for his economy.


Watch-list candidates:
These players should be on notice to raise their performance levels, but considering that there is so much dross to get rid off before the next season they might well be safe.

  1. 24 year-old Natraj Behera is easily the best batsman in the team. With 15 matches from 4 seasons, he has an average of 40.52 from 25 innings, which ranks him in the top 50 batsmen in the league.
  2. Another 24 year-old Biplab Samantray made his debut in 2010. He has played 16 matches over 2 seasons, with an average of 33.52 from 26 innings, which places him at 85th spot.
  3. Subhrajit Sahoo is a 24 year-old batsman with an average of 29.26 from 24 innings over the last 3 seasons, which places him outside the top 100 batsmen in the league.
  4. Halhadar Das, the 26 year-old wicket keeper averages 2.97 catches every match but manages a stumping only once every 10 games, which may well be an indictment of the quality of spinners in the squad. He is handy with a bat and has a batting average of 32.59 from 52 innings.