Nine new teams have made their way into the Ranji Trophy this season.
The country's premier first-class tournament has eight debutants in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Puducherry along with Bihar, who are returning to the field after a gap of 18 years.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who arrived at the venue of the Manipur versus Sikkim match at the Jadavpur University second campus ground on Friday was quite pleased to know that Sikkim, one of the debutants had a double centurion.
Milind Kumar, an import from Delhi for Sikkim, had bailed the team out with a double hundred that had 29 fours and two sixes after they were reduced to 15/5. Sikkim finished the day with 299/9.
The former India captain was very impressed as he said, “200 in a day, very impressive,” quoted Indian Express.
The batsman finished with 261 runs in Sikkim's total of 372.
So, who is Milind Kumar?
This Delhi lad scored an unbeaten 78 for Delhi against England in a warm-up match five years ago, when his teammate Shikhar Dhawan made 110.
Even as Dhawan made his Test debut two months later and went on to open for India in the limited overs format, Milind’s career graph, after his best knock took a downward turn. “It was amazing, when I played for Delhi. And I still miss it. But things didn’t go my way (there). This year, they kept me as a stand-by. The Sikkim Cricket Association (SCA) called me up and asked if I would like to play for them. I’m really grateful they gave me a chance,” Indian Express also quoted Milind as saying.
While Milind hopes to make the most of the opportunities he gets on the domestic circuit after what he hails as his second best of his career, Ganguly is optimistic of Sikkim's future, "They will get better. Everybody has to start someday. And it's not that they were outplayed in Vijay Hazare. They did well. You get better with time," noted Ganguly.
"I always believe pushing people to the deep end. Either you find them or they will find out. But they have done okay," added Ganguly on the sidelines of the match.
As many as 37 teams, including seven debutants from the northeast, opened their campaign in the Ranji Trophy from the Plate Group.
Ganguly, who leads the BCCI technical committee, had proposed to accommodate each and every state association in the domestic season.
That had made way for the likes of Bihar, Uttarakhand and seven northeastern sides to make their debuts. Assam, the eighth northeastrn state, has for long been playing in the Ranji Trophy and made it to the semifinal for the first time in 2017.
Ganguly was also presented with mementos and scarves by the office bearers of the Sikkim and Manipur cricket associations.
With IANS Inputs