Ranji Trophy 2013/14: Players to Watch
With the 2013/14 Ranji Trophy just a couple of days away, we look at five young cricketers who are most likely to make an impact this season.
Vijay Zol – Maharashtra
The 18-year old batsman from Jalna announced his arrival with a blazing 451 in a Cooch Behar game for Maharashtra and since then there has been no looking back. He went on to captain the Indian U19 team and was in for tremendous success, winning three back-to-back tournaments. It wasn't just his captaincy, but also his performances with the willow that drew everyone's attention.
On his first-class debut for India A, Zol slammed his maiden century. He was also recently named “MCA Cricketer of the Year” for his splendid batting display. The youngster, who has already collected 6 centuries across all three formats in domestic cricket this year, is a promising talent. Zol is most likely to make it to the playing XI, and it will be interesting to see how the batsman fares in his first Ranji season.
KL Rahul – Karnataka
A batsman in the Rahul Dravid mould, KL Rahul is already moving up in Karnataka cricket with each performance. The right-handed opener has become a regular on the domestic front and has often scored crucial knocks for KSCA XI in must-win games. He had a fantastic run in the Safi Darashah Invitational tournament, scoring two consecutive hundreds that ultimately helped his side win.
Rahul then recorded hundreds for Karnataka in both innings of the Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup semi-final against Tamil Nadu. He also ended up as the leading run-scorer in the U23 Emerging Teams Cup, with 321 runs. All of 21, the youngster has plenty of time to prove himself and the Ranji Trophy will give him the right platform to do so.
Sandeep Warrier – Kerala
A medium pacer from Kerala, Sandeep Warrier's name has been doing the rounds in domestic cricket for quite some time now. 22-year old Warrier has had a fruitful run with the ball, impressing in the U23 Emerging Teams Cup held in Singapore 2 months ago. Although he picked just 7 wickets in the tournament, his controlled line and length was significant. Warrier made his first-class debut for Kerala a year ago, but is yet to establish himself in the ranks. A full fledged Ranji season will teach him much besides boosting his confidence.
Abhinav Mukund – Tamil Nadu
Coming off a fabulous hundred while leading South Zone in the Duleep Trophy, the responsibility of leading a team has instilled a sense of maturity in Abhinav Mukund, who has also played 5 Tests for India. With an average of 50 in first-class cricket, Mukund is one of the most dependable batsmen in the Tamil Nadu line-up. Even before turning 20, Mukund had a triple hundred to his name, along with centuries on Ranji and Irani Trophy debuts.
Karun Nair – Karnataka
The 21-year old right-handed batsman recently led the KSCA Secretary's XI in the Safi Darashah Invitational tournament, where he scored an incredible double hundred against Andhra CA. His pivotal 97 off 101 balls in the quarter-final encounter helped his side race to the semis. Nair, who is yet to play in the Ranji Trophy, set the tone for a massive chase against defending champions KSCA XI in the semi-final, and helped his side pull off a stunning victory with another hundred. All eyes will be on the youngster as he makes his way to his maiden Ranji Trophy season.
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