Ranji Trophy 2023-24 – Cheteshwar Pujara’s 17th double-hundred flattens Jharkhand

Cheteshwar Pujara has scored his 17th double-century in first-class cricket, in the opening round of the 2023-24 Ranji Trophy season, against Jharkhand. Batting overnight on 157, Pujara went past 200 in the first session of the third day and remained unbeaten on 243 after lunch, when Saurashtra declared on 578 for 4, with a massive lead of 436.

Pujara is now level with Herbert Sutcliffe and Mark Ramprakash on 17 first-class doubles and behind Don Bradman (37), Wally Hammond (36) and Patsy Hendren (22) overall. It was Pujara’s eighth double-hundred in the Ranji Trophy, where he is second on the list behind only Paras Dogra’s nine.

Pujara also has three first-class triple-centuries, the last of which came against West Indies A in October 2013.

Pujara will hope his latest double puts him in contention for the five-Test series against England starting on January 25 in Hyderabad. Pujara last played a Test in June, the WTC final against Australia at The Oval, in which he scored 14 and 27 as India went down by 209 runs.

India have since played two Test series of two games each, in the West Indies in July 2023 and recently in South Africa. Shubman Gill dropped down to No. 3 in all those Tests with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening the batting.

Pujara, meanwhile, played county cricket for Sussex, the Irani Cup (the annual first-class match featuring the Ranji Trophy champions vs the Rest of India) and the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, but without impressive returns till now.

He will probably play at least one more Ranji game – against Haryana at home from January 12 to 15 – before the India squad is announced for the England Tests. Saurashtra’s third fixture is against Vidarbha from January 19 to 22.

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