The 2016-17 Indian domestic season came to end with Tamil Nadu winning the Deodhar Trophy a few days back by beating India B in the finals. This season saw Gujarat winning the Ranji Trophy, Rest of India beating the Ranji champions to take home the Irani Trophy, East Zone coming out as the winners in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Zonal T20 trophy, and Tamil Nadu completing the List A double by winning both the List A tournaments, Vijay Hazare and Deodhar trophy.
Extra cover: 2017 Vijay Hazare Trophy: Team of the Tournament
Several players made a mark during the season and few players were rewarded for their efforts by making it to the Indian team. The likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant, and Shreyas Iyer were called up to represent India while some of them made a case for themselves to get into the Indian team, thanks to their performances.
Let us take a look at five players who had a memorable Indian domestic season.
Gujarat batsman Priyank Panchal had a breakthrough season in the domestic circuit as he ended up as the leading run-scorer in the 2016/17 Ranji Trophy. The right-hander was brilliant for Gujarat throughout the season and was the main reason why the Parthiv Patel-led side made it to the finals and crowned champions.
Panchal scored 1310 runs in 17 innings at an average of 87.33 in the Ranji Trophy with five centuries and four fifties including an unbeaten 314. But he failed to carry on the form in the limited-over formats as he is a player who is suited to the first-class format.
When he was called to play for India A against the visiting Bangladeshi team, Panchal made a statement by scoring a century. It is important for Panchal to carry on from where he left off in the 2016/17 season as a national call-up could be round the corner for the Gujarat batsman if he continues to pile on the runs.
When Tamil Nadu pacer Aswin Crist came into the scene, a lot was expected from the youngster for the potential he possessed at a very young age. Playing for Tamil Nadu, he was forced to play a majority of the matches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai where the wickets had nothing to offer for the pacers.
When BCCI came out with the neutral venue idea, Tamil Nadu needed someone to spearhead their pace attack in the absence of their veteran bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji. Crist rose to the occasion, led the bowling attack and delivered for the team whenever needed.
With his performances in the domestic season that saw him ending as the leading wicket-taker in the Vijay Hazare trophy, Crist was called up to represent the India under-19 team in the Asia Cup for the emerging cricketers.
He took 35 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 27 in the Ranji season and ended the Vijay Hazare trophy as the leading wicket-taker with 20 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 19.65 and an economy of 5.10.
In the inter-zonal T20s, Crist was equally impressive as he took five wickets in three matches at an economy of just over 6, excellent numbers in the T20 format. He will look to continue his good work and make a strong case for himself to make it to the national team.
Yet another success story of this season was Jharkhand as they managed to reach the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy and the Vijay Hazare trophy. One of the main reasons for their success is their middle-order batsman, Ishank Jaggi, who had an outstanding season.
In the Ranji trophy, Jaggi amassed 890 runs in 10 matches at an average of 60 and in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, the Jharkhand batsman's knocks were very crucial in East Zone's success.
He scored 204 runs in 4 innings at an average of 68 with a sensational strike-rate of 164 after which he was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL auction. He didn't disappoint in the List A format as he was the leading runscorer for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare trophy with 279 runs in 8 runs at a healthy average of 56.
51 wickets in the 2015-16 Ranji season followed by 56 wickets in the 2016-17 Ranji season, no bowler was better than Jharkhand’s Shahbaz Nadeem in the Indian domestic circuit in the last two seasons. Nadeem backed up his 56 wickets in the Ranji Trophy with outstanding performances in the other tournaments as well.
In the Vijay Hazare trophy, he accounted for 15 wickets in 8 matches at an average of 18 with an economy of 4.11. Nadeem is knocking the selectors’ door on a constant basis and is very unlucky to get into the Indian team, thanks to the presence of some good spinners.
If he continues the way he is bowling and makes headlines with it, the chances of him making his international debut in the near future will increase.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik is the batting mainstay of the Tamil Nadu team that had a very good domestic season under a new coach in Hrishikesh Kanitkar. After getting out to a scoop shot on a green deck in Tamil Nadu’s first match of the season, Karthik was on a mission and piled on the runs.
704 runs in 10 matches at an average of 54.15 in the Ranji Trophy followed by a Bradman-esque run in the List A format puts the right-hander in line for a possible comeback in the Indian squad for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy that begins in June.
The right-hander was miles ahead of the rest in both the List A tournaments, Vijay Hazare trophy and Deodhar trophy, as he scored 854 runs in 12 innings at an average of 85.40 with a strike-rate of 105. If these numbers can’t earn him a place in the national team, then nothing will.