A campaign that failed to light up

Omkar Paranjape
Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Failing to qualify for the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, Maharashtra had an off-colour 2017 campaign

Pune: The highlight of Maharashtra’s pre-season conditioning camp was the presence of a familiar face. Surendra Bhave, former coach and captain was  back at the helm as the head coach of the team for the second stint, after having spent three seasons away from his home state to take charge of  Haryana Ranji team for a couple of seasons. 

Hence, with most of the things in place for the new campaign, much was expected from the Maharashtra Ranji Team to progress through to the  quarter-finals. However, they ended up finishing third in the group behind Delhi and Karnataka, thus failing to advance to the quarterfinals.

Middle order batsman Ankit Bawne was trusted with the responsibility of captaincy in the absence of Kedar Jadhav, whose proficiency was sorely  missed due to his commitment with the national setup. 

Such was Kedar’s contribution to the team over the years that it was almost an impossible  task for the team management to find a suitable replacement for the Pune batsman. 

The campaign that promised much, sadly fizzled out without much ado for the team that flaunted many new faces this term, a tradition that coach Bhave had started off during his first stint. 

The team overall registered outright wins against Uttar Pradesh and Assam, while losing to Delhi and  Karnataka. They drew a game against Railways, while their contest against Hyderabad was washed out.

In the bowling department, the regulars, Shrikant Mundhe, Samad Fallah and Anupam Sanklecha were used sparingly by team management, as a  result of few new faces won the Ranji cap. 

Young Nikit Dhumal was the most prolific pacer for the team with 12 scalps to his name from 4 outings. His match winnings 5 wicket haul against  Assam was a memorable performance, that stood out amongst the rare classic spells of genuine fast bowling.

On the batting front, the resurgence of Rohit Motwani was a welcome boost for the team. 

The stumper ended the campaign as top run getter for  the team with 460 runs with a century and a half century to his name from 10 innings. His career best knock of 189 gave Maharashtra  a glimpse  of an outright win against Railways, which would’ve made a strong case for the quarter-final. 

Opening batsman Swapnil Gugale had a disappointing campaign. The swashbuckling right hander, who shot to limelight with a triple ton last  season, saw a downward spiral in his form and was subsequently dropped from the team.

Overall, the team saw many sparkling moments to get the fans off their seats, but coach Bhave would know that real hard work lies ahead.

Mixed Campaign
Batting Woes
- On the batting front, the resurgence of Rohit Motwani was a welcome boost for the team. The stumper ended the campaign as top run getter for  the team with 460 runs with a century and a half century to his name from 10 innings. His career best knock of 189 gave Maharashtra  a glimpse  of an outright win against Railways, which would’ve made a strong case for the quarter-final. 
- Opening batsman Swapnil Gugale had a disappointing campaign. The swashbuckling right hander, who shot to limelight with a triple ton last  season, saw a downward spiral in his form and was subsequently dropped from the team.

Chirag Tweaks It
- The surprise of the campaign though came in the form of part-time off-spinner Chirag Khurana, who not only surprised many with the number of  overs he bowled in the campaign (166 overs in 5 matches) but he finished the campaign as Maharashtra’s top wicket taker with 21 wickets to his  name.

- Amongst the new faces, Jagdish Zope and Mukesh Choudhary were the new additions in the quick bowling department. However, Maharashtra’s other bowlers, apart from Nikit Dhumal were disappointing.

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