Ranji Trophy 2017-18: Playing XI of the season
With the conclusion of the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy, it was fitting to merge the 11 best players and form a team of young, upcoming talent as well as experienced campaigners. Under-rated Vidarbha reached their first Ranji final and ended up on the winning side.
Though a lot of names like Gautam Gambhir, R Sanjay, Akshay Wakhare and Ashok Dinda came close to making it to the eleven best players of the season, the eventual list was too close to call.
Winners Vidarbha have two members from their side.
Faiz Fazal (c), Vidarbha - 912 runs at 70.15 in 9 matches
Vidarbha's captain could not have done more to lead his under-rated side to the most surprising of results in Ranji history. By the time he lifted the trophy after they beat Delhi in the final, Fazal and company had ensured that they remained unbeaten throughout the nine games. As one of the opening batsmen, Fazal built huge partnerships with his partner R Sanjay and converted five of his six half-centuries into a hundred.
Against Himachal Pradesh, he achieved his highest first-class score of 206 and in the quarter-final against Kerala, he stepped up to slam 119 in the second innings, a knock which went a long way in a comprehensive win of 412 runs.
Mayank Agarwal, Karnataka – 1,160 runs at 105.45 in 8 matches
Bashing big runs at will, Karnataka's opener Mayank Agarwal sits on top of the batting charts for the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy. He began the domestic season with low scores aplenty: 13 and 8 for India A against New Zealand A in unofficial ODIs; and 31 against Assam and then a pair against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy.
But that was it as far as those scores were concerned. In the very next game, he hit back with a best of 304* against Maharashtra; after that came 176 against Delhi; post that, scores of 90, 133*, 173, 134 and 78 followed against Uttar Pradesh, Railways and Mumbai respectively. Agarwal built up a mountain of runs to separate himself from the next highest run-getter by more than two hundred runs.