How two childhood friends led Assam to their maiden Ranji Trophy semi-final
The scenes inside the dressing room were jubilant. Some were cheering with cacophonic cheers while few others decided to dance to a popular Bollywood numbers. However, in one corner of the room sat two childhood friends, Krishna and Arup Das, both calmly talking on the phone.
It’s a big day for Assam cricket, they have qualified for the Ranji Trophy semi-finals for the first time ever, and calls have bombarded both Krishna and Arup Das’ phones, congratulating them. And why wouldn’t, as both of them were the chief navigators of this historic Ranji voyage.
Scalped 79 out of 136 wickets
This season Assam has scalped 136 wickets in total and has bundled up the oppositions 12 times in an innings. Krishna and Arup combined have taken more that 58% of the total wickets. With 47 wickets in 9 matches, Krishna now sits fifth in the top wicket takers list while Arup stands 15th with 32 wickets. This opening bowling combination by Das & Das for Assam is the state’s Brahmasutra in their route to the semi-finals.
Of the duo, Krishna has often been placed as the lead bowler while Arup wholeheartedly assisted him. It may sometimes seem that Krishna’s brilliance in the field overshadows Arup’s assistance and contribution. But that’s not the case at all, it’s the strategy. Both the players belong to the same neighborhood, Barpeta town, and have played each other since their childhood. They know and understand each other’s bowling very well and have strategized a plan so well that it has led Assam to the semi-finals. Krishna might have been the pick of the bowlers, but Arup kept his line and length tight to keep the pressure on and build a situation that makes it conducive to wickets falling.
“We compliment each other’s bowling. When Krishna goes for an attack, I try to keep things at bay by being more clinical with line and length. We have been playing for quite some time now and we understand each other like no one else,” said an elated Arup exclusively to Sportskeeda after the victory against Punjab.
It’s a day Arup would remember throughout his life. His career best figures of 8/83 and 11/124 ensured Assam this historic win. He also chipped in a handy 18 ball 31 which was crucial for the lead. The semi-final was an instance where Krishna took up the assist role and kept things tight while in song Arup finished it with his attack on his state.
“I am really happy the way things turned out. I did not change the ends I was bowling form and things worked,” Arup added. He undoubtedly was the ‘Man of the Match’.
Disappointed over IPL ignorance
Despite his brilliant Ranji performance and India, Krishna Das failed to attract any bids in the IPL auction that happened on the same day in which Assam registered their historic win. The pacer is naturally very disappointed as he was eagerly waiting for this IPL call-up this season. “Any youngster graduating from the Ranji level would want to play for India, and IPL is the perfect platform to showcase your talent. Currently, I am at the top of my form and fitness. Hence, being overlooked for an event like the IPL is slightly frustrating,” the player was quoted saying in the Indian Express. Even in his previous exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, the player expressed his desire to play in the league and was also reported to have appeared for a trail for Mumbai Indians at Baroda.
The Indian Express report also quoted Assam coach Sanath Kumar saying, “He was banking heavily on the IPL auction. The whole thing has left him dejected. It seems like he has gone into a shell. What’s the point of performing so consistently at the domestic level, when you are repeatedly ignored at the national level?”
Batting still a concern?
The team though has reached the semis, but it seems that batting is still a major concern. This season, Assam had the best-bowing lineup in the country had were lucky enough to play in pitches that supported the seamers. But as they prepare to play Saurashtra at the Motibaug Cricket Ground, which is known for its good pitch, it will be imperative for the team to tune up its batting.
Just three names from the state feature in the list of top 100 run scorers this season. KB Arun Karthik has been the backbone of Assam batting, supported by Amit Verma and Syed Mohammed. In fact, Mohammed’s knock of 121 against Punjab was one essential event that shaped the victory. It was highly green pitch and Punjab had bowlers like Barinder Sran leading the attack. Scoring a century under such condition is very commendable; just that his contribution got a little buried by Arup’s overwhelming performance.
Captain Gokul Sharma, however, seems not so concerned with the batting. “Whenever we have scored less, we have also restricted the opposition in an even lower total. So batting is not that a concern,” said Gokul.
To conclude, the team has already created history by giving its best ever performance. But it now has the chance of battering its own record within the span of two weeks. They already have the best bowling line-up and with a strengthened bowling, Assam do look like a sound Ranji champion contender this season.