The 500th Ranji Tro­phy match

The Ranji Tro­phy, now in the eighth decade, is the award that ev­ery In­dian team wants to win. And to play for those teams is ev­ery In­dian crick­eter's first dream.

Alive - - Content - by G.V. Joshi

The Mumbai cricket team (MCT) – the most suc­cess­ful do­mes­tic team­played its 500th Ranji Tro­phy match from Novem­ber 9, 2017 to Nov 12, 2017, at the fa­mous Wankhede sta­dium in Mumbai against Bar­oda (Vado­dra). How­ever it ended with a draw.

MCT played its first match and won it against Gu­jarat in 1935 at Gu­jarat Col­lege Ground, Ahmed­abad. The then MCT was led by L.P. Jai. The 100th match was again played against Gu­jarat and won by MCT in 1962 at Brabourne Sta­dium, Mumbai. The 200th match was also played and won once again against Gu­jarat in 1978 at Wankhede Sta­dium, Mumbai. The 300th match was played and won against Haryana in

1994 at Na­har Singh Sta­dium; Farid­abad .The 400th match was played and won against Ben­gal in 2007 at Wankhede Sta­dium. But all of them ex­cept the 400th

were not fi­nal matches.

The fol­low­ing ten 10 cap­tains have led Mumbai in win­ning the fi­nal of the tour­na­ment more than once. They are: Ajit Wadekar (four), Mad­hav Mantri, Polly Um­ri­gar, R.G., Alias Bapu Nad­karni, Su­nil Gavaskar (three), Vi­jay Mer­chant, Mad­hav Apte, Manohar Hardikar, Ashok Mankad, Wasim Jaf­fer (two).

The Ranji Tro­phy is a do­mes­tic first-class cricket cham­pi­onship played in In­dia be­tween dif­fer­ent sides, equiv­a­lent to the County Cham­pi­onship in Eng­land and the Sh­effield Shield in Australia. The com­pe­ti­tion is named after Late Ku­mar Shri. Ran­jitsin­hji (aka Ranji).

In the sum­mer of 1934, the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) had met at Shimla, where the founder of the BCCI, Mr. A. S. De Mello, a well-known In­dian cricket ad­min­is­tra­tor had pro­posed a na­tional cham­pi­onship.

In his words, “It was with some­thing like trep­i­da­tion that I sub­mit­ted my pro­posal of a na­tional cham­pi­onship to the au­gust gath­er­ing, and also laid be­fore the meet­ing, an artist's draw­ing of the pro­posed tro­phy, a Gre­cian urn 60 cen­time­tres in height, with a lid, the han­dle of which rep­re­sented Fa­ther Time.”

The then Ma­hara­jah of Pa­tiala, Bhu­pen­dra Singh, jumped up and claimed the honour and priv­i­lege of per­pet­u­at­ing the name of the great Ran­jitsin­hji, who had passed away in 1933.

Legacy for­warded

He of­fered a gold cup of the mag­nif­i­cent de­sign sub­mit­ted by De Mello val­ued at then 500 pounds, to be called the Ranji Tro­phy. He also agreed to present a minia­ture tro­phy, which would be­come the me­mento of the win­ning team. Ev­ery year since then, the House of Pa­tiala has pre­sented the minia­ture.

The first match of Ranji Tro­phy was held on Novem­ber 4, 1934, be­tween Madras and Mysore at Chep­aukat Madras (now Chen­nai). M. J. Gopalan of Madras bowled the first ball to N. Cur­tis. Madras won the match by an in­nings and 23 runs five min­utes be­fore close on the first day. This is only first-class match in In­dia to finish on the first day.

Bom­bay (now Mumbai) has been the dom­i­nant team in the Cham­pi­onship so far, with 41 wins. This record in­cludes 15 con­sec­u­tive ti­tles be­tween 1958-59 and 1972-73. The next best team is Kar­nataka with eight ti­tles. Gu­jarat is the cur­rent Ranji Tro­phy cham­pion, hav­ing beaten Mumbai by 5 wick­ets in the fi­nal of the 2016–17 sea­son held in Holkar Sta­dium, In­dore.

As of to­day, most of the teams play­ing in the Ranji Tro­phy rep­re­sent states of In­dia. How­ever, there are teams that rep­re­sent in­di­vid­ual cities such as

IN­CEP­TION Ma­hara­jah of Pa­tiala, Bhu­pen­dra Singh, jumped up and claimed the honour and priv­i­lege of per­pet­u­at­ing the name of the great Ran­jitsin­hji, who had passed away in 1933. He of­fered a gold cup of the mag­nif­i­cent de­sign ...

Mumbai or re­gions such as Vid­harba and teams that have no re­gional af­fil­i­a­tions, such as

Rail­ways and Ser­vices.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball team sport that is first doc­u­mented as be­ing played in south­ern Eng­land in the 16th cen­tury. To­day, cricket is played in more than 100 coun­tries. The rules of the game are known as the Laws of Cricket. These are main­tained by the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC), the gov­ern­ing body of cricket, and the Maryle­bone Cricket Club (MCC), the club that has been the guardian of the Laws since it was founded in 1787.

Be­gin­ning

The game of cricket came to In­dia along with many other things like Rail­ways and Tele­graph that the English in­tro­duced in In­dia. English army and civil­ian em­ploy­ees of the East In­dia Com­pany (EIC) used to play cricket in Cal­cutta and Madras in the 1720s.

The ear­li­est record of cricket in In­dia goes back to 1721, when English mer­chants played a game at Cam­bay, Gu­jarat. Army reg­i­ments of EIC used to play cricket matches among them­selves in 18th and 19th cen­turies at their Reg­i­men­tal Cen­ters scat­tered through­out the coun­try.

Parsees of Mumbai were the first to take to cricket. The Ori­ent Cricket Club, at the Es­planade Maidan at Bom­bay, formed in 1848, by them was the first cricket club In In­dia. The Ori­ent Club was also the first club to tour Eng­land 1886. They played 28 matches and won only one of them.

A team led by Ge­orge Ver­non in 1889- 90 played 11 matches in In­dia where they won 8, drew 2 and lost one match, iron­i­cally to the Parsees.

Lord Har­ris, some­time cap­tain of Eng­land and Gover­nor of Bom­bay Pres­i­dency be­tween 1890 and 1895 helped to pop­u­larise the game and changed the sport­ing ethos of a city - and then that of a na­tion.

The first reg­u­lar cricket con­test in In­dia which was started in 1892, was the an­nual se­ries of matches be­tween the Parsees and the Euro­peans, Each year, two matches, one each in Mumbai and the other in Pune were played. From 1907 to 1911, the tour­na­ment be­came a tri­an­gu­lar af­fair when Hin­dus joined in.

The con­test then be­came quad­ran­gu­lar with the en­try of Mo­hammedans in 1912. A fifth team, The Rest, was added in 1937 and the tour­na­ment be­came the Bom­bay Pen­tag­u­lar. The tour­na­ment was aban­doned in 1945, fol­low­ing an ag­i­ta­tion by Ma­hatma Gandhi on the ground that it had the el­e­ment of ‘Di­vide and rule pol­icy’ fol­lowed by English rulers.

An­other man, who showed the way, was Ranji (K.S. Ran­jitsin­hji,) later to be Jam Sa­heb of Nawana­gar, a state in Saurash­tra re­gion of Gu­jarat. He played lit­tle cricket in In­dia; though he did play, some cricket for the House of Pa­tiala’s XI and led a Jam­na­gar team oc­ca­sion­ally un­til 1915.

How­ever, it is his achievements in Eng­land and Australia, for Sus­sex and Eng­land that made In­di­ans think that they too could play the game bet­ter than its founders.

The need

To ac­com­plish that, com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ment cricket was es­sen­tial. As men­tioned ear­lier, a na­tional cricket cham­pi­onship was pro­posed early in 1934 by A.S. de Mello.

And thus was born Ranji Tro­phy, the com­pe­ti­tion for an English game, a tour­na­ment named after Ranji, who, with “a flick of the wrist sent the ball to the leg bound­ary” or leaned into the ball and sent it to the bound­ary “with the speed of thought”.

What Lord Har­ris started has kept grow­ing in Mumbai - In­dia's most for­ward-look­ing me­trop­o­lis. The Bom­bay (Mumbai) Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion to­day has 350 reg­is­tered clubs play­ing in about 80 of­fi­cial tour­na­ments in a year.

The Ranji Tro­phy, now in the eighth decade, is the award that ev­ery In­dian team wants to win. And to play for those teams is ev­ery In­dian crick­eter's first dream.

It is from this first step that cricket play­ers like Kapil Dev, Sachin Ten­dulkar, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and the like have blos­somed to achieve the next step – to rep­re­sent In­dia in In­ter­na­tional Cricket.

Chetesh­war Pu­jara play­ing in the 500th Ranji Tro­phy match.

Mumbai: All set for 500th match in the tour­na­ment.

Sanju Samson

cel­e­brates after scor­ing a dou­ble-cen­tury in Ranji Tro­phy

2014-15.

Ran­jitsin­hji, after whom the tour­na­ment is

named.

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