Letís look beyond runs, wickets

After the completion of five rounds of this Ranji season, Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan and Maharashtra's Kedar Jadhav occupy the top positions in the bowling and batting charts. Dhawan has so far picked up 39 wickets at 14.84 in five matches. Jadhav, on the other hand, has collected 613 runs in four games at an average of 153.25, with three tons.

Following them closely are Madhya Pradesh duo of Jalaj Saxena (28 wickets) and Naman Ojha (509 runs). Going purely by numbers, these performances should be good enough to put these players on the fringes of the Indian team.

But the question to be asked here is: Have the aforementioned names achieved their feats in helpful conditions. If the answer is yes, which it most likely seems to be, then you (and the selectors) must ask a follow up question. Or questions. Do these performances then paint a true picture of a player's calibre?

Let's analyse the table-toppers first. Out of medium pacer Dhawan's 39 wickets, 32 have come on his home ground at Dharamsala, where cold and heavy conditions give the men with long run-ups an advantage. Similarly, a bulk of Jadhav's 600-plus runs have arrived on the featherbed that is the Pune wicket. And when he went away from home, he made batting on a paradise surface in Hyderabad with a double hundred.

When evaluating a performance, the selectors must keep a few of these facts in mind, especially with the new Ranji format allowing teams to half their matches on favourable home conditions.

So, now, what according to you should be valued more? Abhinav Mukund and Cheteshwar Pujara cracking double hundreds in a match where 1146 runs were scored in just two innings, where only a sum total of 14 wickets fell.

Or Gurkeerat Mann's 51 while batting at number eight against Haryana on a spicy Lahli wicket, the same surface where Tendulkar struggled in the first innings of his last domestic match. Mann scored these runs when Punjab were 46/6, helping them overhaul Haryana's first innings total of 184. Likewise, would you rate left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt's 5/37 in the spinner-friendly Moti Bagh in Baroda (against MP, a place where even Yusuf Pathan took 3/27) higher than Hyderabad fast bowler Ravi Kiran's 4/116 from 34.4 overs when the opposition (Maharashtra) went on to score more than 600 runs?

... contd.

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