'Ranji Trophy has grown greatly'


 Named after K S Ranjitsinhji, the inventor of the leg glance but who played very little cricket in India, the Ranji Trophy has metamorphosed over the years, from the knockout matches culminating in timeless finals to its current structure of the Super League and Plate Divisions. While the balance of power hasn’t totally shifted from 39-time champions Mumbai, more and more teams are staking their claims on a consistent basis as the ‘smaller’ teams are making their presence felt.

This millennium alone, sides like Railways and Uttar Pradesh have already crowned themselves first-time champions, a testimony to improved facilities, to better talent-spotting and nurturing systems, the burgeoning presence of role models – like Sanjay Bangar in Railways, Mohammad Kaif in UP and, most famously, Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Jharkhand – and to the increasing awareness among the younger crop of the potential cricket holds as a career option.

Having come through the system, made tons of runs in the Ranji Trophy, forced to bide his time and therefore hungry for the big stage by the time he made his Test debut, Rahul Dravid is in an ideal position to talk about the evolution of the event.
“It’s a fantastic competition,” the former Indian captain told Deccan Herald. “The tournament has moved beyond the established centres and is being played across the length and the breadth of the country, the facilities have improved tremendously all over India and it is no surprise to see the so-called smaller teams being so competitive so regularly.

“In my era alone, I have seen the Ranji Trophy grow greatly,” added Dravid, who made his Ranji debut in November 1991. “I know there have been many critics of the competition, there is a school of thought that perhaps too many teams are playing in what is the country’s principal domestic competition. I believe, however, that in a country of our size, a tournament of this nature is necessary.
“Obviously, a lot more needs to be done and I am sure it will be in due course, but we are on the right track. I say that because I see newer teams putting their hand up every year and fighting for top honours, and players coming through from parts of the country that weren’t always associated with throwing up cricketers in large numbers.”

Ranji factfile
* Karnataka (then Mysore) played their first match against Madras at Chennai on Nov 4, 1934.
* Karnataka scored their maiden victory over Hyderabad, winning by 111 runs at home on Dec 01, 1941.
* Karnataka played their first final against Mumbai, emerging runner-up after losing by an innings and 281 runs on March 7, 1942.
* Karnataka have won the coveted Trophy six times: 1973-75 (vs Rajasthan); 77-78 (vs Uttar Pradesh); 82-83 (vs Mumbai); 95-96 (vs Tamil Nadu); 97-98 (vs Uttar Pradesh); 98-99 (Madhya Pradesh).
* Karnataka against Uttar Pradesh: Played 4; Won 2; Lost 0; Drawn 2.

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