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In the zone – West

Baroda’s Ninad Rathva impresses in the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy

It is quite fascinating that left-arm spinners finished as the leading wicket-takers in the Col CK Nayudu and the Cooch Behar Trophies in 2015-16. Both youngsters belong to the West Zone in India’s domestic circuit. Maharashtra Under-23s Satyajeet Bachhav topped the charts in the Col CK Nayudu Trophy, whereas Ninad Rathva led the way for Baroda Under-19s’ in the Cooch Behar Trophy.

If you hear both speak, it is a similar story; both bowlers had set off on the same path before turning to spin. Like Bachhav, Rathva too began as a fast bowler in his younger days before accidentally stumbling upon left-arm spin. Speaking to BCCI.TV, the U-19 spinner said, “I started playing when I was six years old. I was a fast bowler but then in a school tournament, I bowled spin as there was no spinner. The coach then asked me to focus on this and (said) that it would be good. Since then I am bowling left-arm spin.” He is a product of Kiran More’s academy and has been training there since the age of six. He looks up to India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. While he has impressed with his bowling, the youngster also works on his batting and maintains a positive approach to the craft.

Rathva finished the season with 63 wickets from eight matches comprising seven five-fors and four ten-wicket hauls. The next highest wicket-taker, Shanu Saini has 23 scalps lesser than the Baroda lad — a statistic that reflects his dominance. So what worked for the left-arm spinner this year? “I worked on my accuracy. I used to do target bowling and bowl more in the nets,” he replied. Describing his style, he said, “I try to spin the ball. The flight I get is normal.”

With a phenomenal season behind him, Rathva will be keen to make it to the next level. With that in mind, his focus is on improvement and putting in the hard yards.

Mumbai’s youngsters rub shoulders with players from England and South Africa

The ICC World T20 warm-ups took place in Mumbai last week with a few big contests at the Wankhede Stadium. A short distance away, the Brabourne Stadium hosted two more warm-up games in a quieter atmosphere. The Mumbai Cricket Association XI played against England and South Africa on March 14 and 15 respectively. The MCA XI were led by Shreyas Iyer, who is coming off a fantastic season for Mumbai in the domestic circuit. The team also included the likes of Akhil Herwadkar, Shardul Thakur, Jay Bista and Armaan Jaffer to name a few; not to forget the 44-year-old, Pravin Tambe, whose enthusiasm and spirit puts him at par with any youngster.

In the first match, England’s David Willey, Jos Buttler, James Vince and Adil Rashid turned up for the MCA XI and all four of them put in good performances against their own team. Rashid helped MCA XI dismiss the England openers who threatened to run away with the game. Willey then took a hat-trick in the last over during England’s batting while Vince scored 45 to guide the run-chase and Buttler’s aggressive knock gave England a scare towards the end.

However, the stand-out performer of the match was Bista, who was riding on the confidence of a good season including a century in the Irani Cup for the senior Mumbai team in the previous week. Taking on an international attack, he played with authority during his 37-ball 51-run knock which included five fours and two sixes. Along with Iyer, he put together a 57-run opening stand in the powerplay and impressed with his attacking approach.

The following day, the MCA XIs played against Faf du Plessis-led South Africa. This time JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, David Weise and Imran Tahir were part of the MCA XI team. In this game, Herwadkar stood out with a 61-run knock while opening the batting to help set the stage for a respectable total. With some valuable contributions down the order, the team notched up 188 for four. Jaffer hit an unbeaten 12-ball 24 in an unbroken 57-run stand with Weise. Though South Africa chased the total down with ease, thanks to AB de Villiers and du Plessis, the MCA XI did have positives to take. The match gave the youngsters, who have been making their presence felt in the domestic circuit an opportunity to face-off and test themselves against some of the best in the business. 

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In the zone – North

Barinder Sran nursing injured shoulder at NCA

After a sensational international debut against Australia, Punjab’s left-arm quick Barinder Sran missed the Irani Cup match due to a shoulder injury and is undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru under physiotherapist Andrew Liepus. He is pursuing core and strengthening exercises at the NCA to regain match-fitness at the earliest. With the Indian Premier League (IPL) starting on April 10, he would be keen to get match-fit and hope to compete in the tournament for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

After claiming three wickets in Perth, his performance dipped in the following two matches as he went wicketless. Back from Australia, Sran joined his coach Amit Uniyal in Chandigarh and worked on his fitness. After a while, it became imperative for the bowler to go at NCA for specialized advice and rehabilitation.

Speaking about the injury, Sran’s coach and former Punjab left-arm pacer, Uniyal, said, “Barinder had a dream start while playing for India. Taking three wickets in your first game, that too against Australia means a lot. However, he could not perform that well in the next two matches he played for India. His shoulder had started to trouble him. When he returned to India, I made him concentrate more on core training rather than bowling. At the same time, he was working hard on his shoulder with Punjab’s physiotherapist Ravi too. I think it was best for him to go at NCA and go into a recovery and rehab period. I am in touch with him and he seems to have recovered well.” Sran, who hails from Sirsa in Haryana, took three wickets against Australia in Perth.

Sran came into limelight during his Ranji Trophy outings for Punjab. He picked 18 wickets during the league stage of Ranji Trophy. The 23-year old, who played for Rajasthan Royals in the 2015 IPL, was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 1.2 crore in the auction ahead of the upcoming edition of the IPL. He will be looking forward to showcase his abilities in the forthcoming edition of the IPL.

“Injuries are part of fast bowlers’ lives. Sran should not be bogged down by injuries and work hard on fitness. I am sure he will be back from NCA, recovered and fit. There will be sometime ahead of the IPL to train and become match-fit,” added coach Uniyal, who has 89 first-class wickets to his credit.

North Zone women have a poor outing in Senior Women’s three-day zonals

The North Zone women’s team led by Delhi’s Latika Kumari disappointed with their performance during their four matches in the ongoing senior women’s three-day zonal tournament in Guntur. North Zone women are winless in the tournament and finished with a mere three points in its kitty.

The North Zone women lost one game and drew the other three. However, some of its cricketers like Taniya Bhatia, Reema Malhotra did well in the batting department while Preeti Bose and Mansi Joshi shone in the bowling line-up.

Bhatia, who belongs to Chandigarh, scored 202 runs in six innings while Reema Malhotra made 153 runs in six innings. Meanwhile, left-arm spinner from Haryana, Bose, who recently made her India debut, took 12 wickets in the six innings she bowled. Medium-pacer Joshi from Haryana impressed with 10 wickets in six innings.

Apart from North Zone, South Zone, Central Zone, East Zone and West Zone are competing in the tournament. Playing their last match in the tournament, Central Zone stands tall in the tally with 11 points.

Umesh Kumar Trophy gets underway

The Umesh Kumar Trophy for Under-23s under the aegis of Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) got underway at different venues of Punjab districts from March 10. The teams have been divided into two pools for the competition. Pool-A consists of Chandigarh, Zone-B, Amritsar and Ludhiana while Pool-B will comprise of Patiala, Zone-A, Jalandhar and Mohali.

All the matches will be of four-day duration. The matches will be played in Chandigarh, Patiala, Mohali, Jalandhar and Amritsar. The league stage of the tournament will finish on March 24. The first semi-final will be played from March 17 to 30 between the No.1 team of Pool-A and No.2 team from Pool-B while the second semi-final will be between the No.2 of Pool-A and No.1 of Pool-B. The final will be played from April 2 to 5, 2016. The venue of the semi finals and finals will be announced by the association at a later date. This is the first tournament by PCA for the 2016-2017 season. The Punjab U-23 team had reached the quarter-finals for the U-23 Col. C.K. Nayudu Trophy 2015-16. 

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