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The season for Delhi, like most other states, kicks off with the domestic T20 tournament starting Tuesday. I, along with my peers, am expecting the IPL teams to keep a close eye on the tournament. Good performances here might translate into a contract with a franchise and a chance to play in the coveted IPL. Ideally one would expect the batsmen to be hitting big shots and innovating in the nets, and the bowlers to bowl a lot of yorkers and slower ones. But a visit to our practice session would prove you wrong. We’re practising in white clothes and with the red ball. Most batsmen are playing proper cricket, leaving balls outside off stump and trying to hit along the ground as much as possible. The bowlers are also doing what it takes to succeed in the longer version of the game, bowling longer spells, practising to maintain a teasing line just outside off stump.
“Are we missing something?” you might wonder.
Well, the fact is that the Ranji Trophy starts within a week of this T20 bash. While everyone understands the importance of bagging an IPL contract, the importance of performing in the longer format isn’t wasted on the players. They know that to cement a place in the state side they must do well in the Ranji Trophy. Admittedly the performances in T20 would be taken into consideration, but they will take a cricketer only so far. His season is going to be judged by what he did in the longer format. The performances in the longer format are rewarded by selection in the zonal side to play in the Duleep and Deodhar Trophies. Doing well there brings a player another major step closer to realising his ultimate dream of playing for the country.
Moreover it would be a little tough to change gears so drastically after the T20 tournament gets over. One can’t be expected to slog everything for two-three weeks while preparing for the T20 matches, and overnight develop patience and temperament to succeed in the Ranji Trophy.
Ideally the T20 tournament should happen after the domestic one-day tournament, which is just prior to the IPL. That would not only be a natural progression from one format to another, but would also provide the much required practice for the IPL.
But in case the BCCI just has to plan the T20 tournament before the start of the season, a good idea would have been to hold this tournament at least two weeks prior to the start of the Ranji Trophy. This arrangement would have given ample time to the players to prepare for both formats equally and independently.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.