For a long time, Bishan Singh Bedi stood on top of the wicket-takers list in a single season of the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic competition. With 64 wickets in the 1974/75 season, Bedi was the undisputed king of bowling in the Ranji Trophy. However, 44 years later, another left-arm spinner has shattered Bedi’s record in grand style. Ashutosh Aman, a 32-year-old from Gaya, who works in the Air Force and plays for his native state Bihar, has gone past Bedi’s mark and taken 68 wickets in eight games at a staggering average of 6.48 and an economy rate of 1.90. Aman’s exploits in the Plate Division of the Ranji Trophy could not help Bihar reach the knock-outs as they finished second behind Uttarakhand.
However, Aman’s exploits have taken the Ranji Trophy by storm. In his first two games, he did not have much impact, with his 4/34 being the best against Uttarakhand and the match against Puducherry abandoned without a ball bowled. In the game against Sikkim, Aman picked up 5/19 and 5/22 to finish with remarkable figures of 10/41 and help Bihar win by 395 runs.
His returns in the next few games were remarkable. In the match against Arunachal Pradesh, Aman picked up 4/26 and 7/14 as Bihar demolished Arunachal by an innings and 317 runs. His appetite for wickets increased in the next game against Meghalaya as he took 8/51 and 6/17 to demolish the side by an innings and 71 runs. He continued to hurt the Northeast teams and his next victim was Nagaland. He took 7/47 and 5/49 to finish with 12 wickets in the match and give Bihar a 273-run win. Against Mizoram, he enhanced his reputation by blasting a century and taking 5/28 in Jorhat to help Bohar win by an innings and 216 runs. His fantastic run ended on a great note as he took 4/39 and 7/71 against Manipur as Bihar won a tense game by three wickets.
Aman’s haul of 14/68 against Meghalaya was the second-best bowling figures in the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy while he became only the fifth bowler to take an eight-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy season. Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Aman said whatever cricket he had learnt was during his time with the Air Force but since there was immense competition in the Services side, he made the move to Bihar to play first-class cricket. He credits Pragyan Ojha, who played 24 Tests for India, as his mentor.
“He's a professional, talks to everyone daily, and now we've come together very well. He said, "ball mein jaan aur bounce hona chahiye (your deliveries should have some life and bounce in them)," and after that my focus has been on that. So he said "even if the ball isn't turning, your bounce should hurry the batsmen up,” Aman told ESPNCricinfo.
Aman’s exploits have ensured that he stays on top of the pile for a very long time to come.