HYDERABAD: The 2016-17 season was a milestone for Jharkhand, where they made the semifinals in the Ranji Trophy for the first time and then reached the semis in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the preceding season, they had reached the quarters in both.
Fast forward to 2017-18, and the picture isn’t as rosy. They exited the Ranji in the group stage with four losses in six games. They exited this Vijay Hazare Trophy too, with four losses in five games. Their only silver lining this season was their march into the Super League stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Speaking to Express about their campaign in the one-dayers, coach Rajiv Kumar shed some light on what could be the reason behind a dismal performance.
“Two young guys — Ishan Kishan and Virat Singh — were given the responsibilities of captain and vice-captain for the first time. There were a few mistakes when it comes to field placements and the usage of bowlers, like which one should be used when.”
They tried three different skippers — Varun Aaron, Saurabh Tiwary and Shahbaz Nadeem — in Ranji Trophy. Aaron took over in the T20s. “However, it was like a trial tournament for Kishan and Virat as leaders. It has been a learning curve for them.”
It must be recalled that Kishan captained the India U-19 team that reached World Cup final in 2015.
Then comes the Mahi factor. MS Dhoni had been an integral part of their side that had reached the quarters and semis. He was missing this time due to national duty. “With the kind of cricketing mind that he has, he had helped in making decisions. He was certainly missed.”
While their batsmen doing a satisfactory job (led by Kishan and Tiwary, who scored 313 and 296 runs), their bowling has been found wanting.
This was evident when their opponents reached 300 or more on three instances, all resulting in their defeat. The likes of Varun Aaron (seven wickets at an economy rate of 5.55) have not been ably supported by other pacers.
The other senior speedster — Rahul Shukla — too has seven kills, but his economy is 6.83. Pacers Vikash Singh and Ashish Kumar also conceded more than six per over. Even U-19 World Cup-winning spinner Anukul Roy could not do much on the flat tracks of Hyderabad, scalping only two in three matches. Kumar too acknowlegded that such a problem had existed.
Jharkhand will face Jammu and Kashmir in their final tie on Wednesday. Not bogged down by the results so far, the team is looking to try out more from the bench. “We will probably give chance to some of the youngsters who did not get to play till now,” said the coach.