Ranji Trophy 2023-24 – Run-hungry Ricky Phui leads Andhra

Deivarayan Muthu

In the ongoing Ranji season, Ricky Phui has played 4 matches and scored 3 centuries so far PTI

Ricky Phui played two Under-19 World Cups for India in 2014 and 2016, but his career did not take off well from there. Eight years later, he is back on the rise by scoring big runs for Andhra Pradesh in domestic cricket. He has taken over the captaincy of Andhra from Hanuma Vihari this season and will play for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2024.

Overall, Phui's average is 45.36 after 67 first-class matches since 2013. From January 2021 this figure will be up to 55.89.

So, what has changed for Bui? Phui tells ESPNcricinfo ahead of Andhra Pradesh's fifth round Ranji Trophy match against Bihar in Patna. „Because as a domestic batsman, you have to keep scoring runs. You can't be satisfied with a century or a big score.

„There are a lot of runs across the country from time to time. So you have to keep scoring to be noticed. So, I told myself not to be satisfied with how much I'm scoring. Every day is a new day and every innings is a new innings. I changed my mindset and that's it. Gotta get in the mood, that's helped me in every match.”

Phui is the third highest run-getter in the ongoing Ranji season with 492 runs in 6 innings at an average of 82 including 3 centuries. His entry figures in those three innings were: 119 for 3 against Bengal, 168 for 2 against Assam and 41 for 3 against Chhattisgarh. He believes he has the talent and character to tackle any situation in the middle order.

„As a middle-order batsman you have to face different situations,” says Phui. „Sometimes it's 2 for 20 or 200 or 2 and sometimes you have to play with the bowlers to score big runs. So, as a middle-order batsman you have to be ready for those challenges. An opener has a different set of challenges – playing on wet wickets and playing on hard, new wickets. Facing the ball and facing new characters.

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“Being a middle-order batsman, you have to carry the team [to the finish line] as well as So, facing different situations is a huge challenge. And I've been playing in the middle order since my childhood, so I'm used to it,” he said.

Phui is particularly fond of his 175 against Bengal, as it came after being hit on the head while keeping wicket. After recovering from that, he helped Andhra overcome Bengal's 409 with a first innings advantage.

„The century against Bengal gave me a lot of confidence because they were runners-up last year and they had a great bowling attack – Akash Deep, Ishan Borel,” says Phui. „They scored 409 in the first innings and on the first day, I hit my head while keeping wicket and felt dizzy all day, so I took a break and played a long innings again and that got me. There's a lot of confidence going into the season.”

„We are [Andhra] This time they want to prepare well and go all the way to win. Last time we went to the quarter-finals; We haven't been on the big stage very often, but in the last two-three years, we've been getting there.”Ricky Bui

Phui occasionally keeps wickets when first-choice KS Bharath is unavailable, and he says the second talent has also benefited him in white-ball cricket. He could be India's back-up to both Rishabh Pant and Kumar Kushagra at the Capitals in IPL 2024.

„I have been playing consistently for the last four-five years. When KS is available, he is the keeper,” says Phui. „When he's not available, I keep it because it allows me to play an extra batsman or an extra bowler depending on the situation. I thought adding a second skill would help me in white-ball cricket as well. Nowadays, you see. KL Rahul is keeping and a lot of people have adapted to that. In white-ball cricket, you have to have two skills to help the team, and I am ready to keep.

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Phui has added more shots to his repertoire, which was on display during the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he scored 234 runs at a strike rate of 185 in seven innings. He later participated in several IPL trials. Including one at the Capitals, he was eventually snapped up for his base price of INR 20 lakh in an auction last month.

Ricky Pui has worked on ball manipulation India Today Group via Getty Images

„I feel coming back to the IPL has given me an extra opportunity to showcase my skills,” says Phui. „I improved my white-ball game and added some innovative strokes. I batted lower down the order, which helped my strike rate as well. As a player, I needed this boost and I played six-seven Tests. . The trial in Delhi went really well, I was lucky to be selected by them. I also played with Rishabh in the Under-19 World Cup and am looking forward to playing for Delhi Capitals.”

Phui is an excellent off-spinner, having played for Nelson Club in the Chennai League, where you often get pitches that change sharply from the first session. „In Chennai, the wicket rank is suitable for a turner or a batsman,” he says. „I improved my game there against spin and built up the patience needed to grind out long innings in red-ball cricket. They don't give away runs easily in Chennai either, so I took these from the Chennai league. That's my game.”

Bhui took over as Andhra's full-time captain after that Bengal game and marshaled the team to two wins in three matches. Often a mid-season change disrupts the team, but change has been steady in Andhra Pradesh.

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„Basically, Vihari wanted to focus more on his batting,” says Phui. „It's more or less the same team – the same group of boys who have been playing together for the last four-five seasons. So, it didn't affect us much within the team and Vihari came into batting form, which was much needed, and that helped the team. I see captaincy as a stressful job. Not watching because I know these boys have played together a lot, so not much to say. It's about a good team atmosphere and I know they will. Do their job.”

Andhra are currently second in the Group B points table below Mumbai and a comprehensive win against Bihar would strengthen their chances of qualifying for the knockouts. Andhra also made the knockouts last season, where they had a first-innings advantage against Madhya Pradesh in the quarter-final at Indore, but collapsed for 93 runs in the second game and eventually lost the game. Phui believes Andhra Pradesh can go deeper into the knockouts this season.

„Andhra is a state where we are yet to win a trophy, so we are aiming to win,” says Phui. „We have prepared well this time and want to go to the end and win. Last time we went to the quarter-finals; we are not often on the big stage, but in the last two-three years, we have been getting there. Now, we want to go a step or two further. .”

Deivarayan Muthu is Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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