MS Dhoni had a rather unimpressive outing with Jharkhand © AFP (File Photo)
MS Dhoni had a rather unimpressive outing with Jharkhand © AFP (File Photo)

The first round of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 season has come to an end. It produced some really exciting matches with close finishes. After a gruelling period in the Ranji Trophy 2015-16 group stages, players from all teams have now shifted their attention to doing well in the shorter version. There were ups and downs, few players, who stepped up to the plate, while a few did not live up to the expectations. There’s however still a long way to go in the tournament and there will be plenty of opportunities for under-performing players to excel. Pramod Ananth picks out some of the best and the worst performers of the first round. Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16: MS Dhoni dismissed for 9 as Jharkhand register 9-run win over Jammu & Kashmir

Best Performers

Alok Sahoo (Odisha): Sahoo picked up five wickets in the match against Vidarbha at Palam to help his side defend a score of 226. Odisha won the match by just three runs and Sahoo’s spell of 5 for 39 in 10 overs was instrumental in achieving this feat. He also got good support from other bowlers like Basant Mohanty and Biplap Samntray. Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 complete coverage

Jay Bista (Mumbai): This was Bista’s debut in a List A match and he made an immediate impact, scoring 92 off 87 opening the innings. Chasing 255 to win against Punjab, Bista never seemed like he was in any sort of trouble right from the first ball. Unfortunately for him, he fell eight short of his ton, but Mumbai got home by five wickets and 29 balls to spare. Bista also picked up a couple of wickets with his gentle off-spinners.

Amit Mishra (Haryana): Mishra put in an all-round performance to help Haryana beat Kerala by nine runs. Being put into bat, Haryana scored 241 for 7 in their first innings with Mishra coming in at No. 6 and remaining unbeaten on 40. He then stepped with the ball as well, picking up 3 for 35 in his 10 overs to help Haryana bowl Kerala out for 232.

Karn Sharma: Karn was a tad expensive with the ball, finishing with 2 for 55 off his eight overs, but made up for it with the bat. The match was poised at a precarious position but Karn came in at No. 7 and smashed 51 off 64, with three fours and four sixes punctuating his innings. His knock turned out to be extremely crucial as his side beat defending champions Karnataka by a wicket off the final delivery of the match.

Suboth Bhati (Delhi): Like Bista, Bhati too made his List A debut in this game and was highly impressive with the ball. The medium-pacer finished with superb figures of 6.5-2-17-4 to help Delhi register a comprehensive 31-run win over Baroda after they were restricted to just 208 in their innings. Bhati also made his First-Class in the Ranji Trophy when Delhi took on Odisha earlier this season.

Worst performers:         

MS Dhoni: (Jharkhand) There was a huge hype about Dhoni playing domestic cricket for the first time in eight years. Expectations were sky high from the Indian limited-overs skipper. But he managed to score just nine from 24 deliveries coming in at No. 5. Dhoni will look to put this behind him and score big in the next few matches.

Rajat Paliwal (Services): A lot was expected off Paliwal after he had scored 753 runs for Services at a staggering average of 68.45 in the Ranji Trophy 2015-16 group stages. He was however dismissed for a 2-ball duck in the first match of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 match against Rajasthan. He will look to put up a good show in the next match.

Irfan Pathan (Baroda): Baroda skipper Ambati Rayudu won the toss and elected to field first against Delhi . He would have wanted the fast bowlers to exploit the conditions early on. But Delhi managed to get off to a steady start. Delhi finished their 50 overs, scoring just over four an over, but Pathan went for 5.2 an over, picking uo just one wicket. Needing 209to win, Pathan got out for a duck coming in at No. 7, when his team need him to use his experience and guide them home. Baroda were eventually bowled out for 177.

Varun Aaron (Jharkhand): Jharkhand skipper Aaron failed to lead the team from the front as he turned out to be one of the most expensive bowlers for them in their opening fixture against Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). He finished with figured of none for 56 in his 10 overs, but his side somehow pulled off a narrow win.

Stuart Binny (Karnataka): Binny is one of Karnataka’s most experienced players. He has been given decent amount o exposure at the international level recently too. With star batsman Robin Uthappa injured, somebody had to shoulder the responsibility to get some runs at the top. Binny should have done just that. He managed to score 17 off 26 and failed to pick up a single wicket with the ball in his seven overs. Karnataka eventually lost an extremely close match to Railways as a result. Binny will have to step up in the upcoming games.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)