Ranji Trophy, 2009-10 January 3, 2010

How to reduce draws in knock-out matches

Some incentives to encourage teams to go for an outright win, instead of sitting back after gaining the first-innings lead
36


Mumbai didn't bother pushing for a win after taking a 236-run lead against Haryana, opting for batting practice on the final day instead © Cricinfo Ltd
 

Not even a single Ranji Trophy quarter-final match produced an outright win. All winners were decided on the basis of the first-innings lead. This happened primarily because there wasn’t enough time to go for an outright win and also there was no intention to force the result.

Neutral Curators = A good batting surface The BCCI did the right thing by appointing neutral curators for the knock-out matches. It was the second best thing after hosting the matches on neutral venues. Yet, the curators only get a few days to prepare the track as the venues depend on the teams qualifying. All that they can do is to not allow the hosts to prepare a track which suits their needs. For example, they would not leave too much grass to assist the quick bowlers or an underprepared wicket to suit the spinners. But that invariably results in preparing a good batting surface. And in any case it’s unfair to expect a miracle in four-five days of preparation. You can’t change the nature of a particular track overnight.

Four days not enough Only the teams which are in good form (both batting and bowling) make it to the last eight. It is rather difficult to take 20 wickets of the team in good form on a good batting surface. WV Raman, the coach of Tamil Nadu team was quoted saying, ‘from here onwards (quarter-finals) the teams batting well will win the trophy’. And he was correct in his assessment. Teams go into the match with the intention of batting-out the opposition. Since an outright win isn’t necessary to go to the next round, the focus is on batting for as long as possible. Teams rarely worry about the scoring rate, which at times, makes the game boring to watch. But you cannot blame the teams for that approach either. The game gets over as soon as one team gets first-innings lead however slender it might be. Imagine a team getting a five runs first-innings lead!! Falling short by a few runs doesn’t mean that the opposition was superior or your team was outplayed.

Solution For starters it won’t be a bad idea to make all knock-out games a five-day affair. That would give teams a ray of hope to make a comeback even after conceding the lead. Also it will keep the team which has got the lead on their toes. That’s exactly how it panned out for us, Delhi, in the finals in 2007. Uttar Pradesh got the first-innings lead but there was enough time left in the match for us to make a comeback. Secondly, there could be a cash reward (this could be implemented for the entire season) for an outright win. This would encourage teams, once on top, to tighten the noose and not use the last day for batting practice.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • le3yonk.com on January 12, 2010, 11:29 GMT

    good topic thanks

  • Girish Kulkarni on January 11, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Good topic Akash! I agree with Dunkin's points. Without making any gross changes, simply change the point system. That will make huge difference. - give points based on: innings win, regular win, lead by number of runs (like 1 point per 25 run lead) etc -this way teams can vye for wins or bigger leads, than just 1 run lead. -Next best thing to look for is 5 day match

  • dr sajeer on January 9, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    nice article..., yes its true... but i wonder whats the use of 2nd innings? they can make it 1-1 innings game no? this will look better than whats happening right now

  • marees on January 7, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    what about putting a cap on the no of overs in the first innings? Steve Waugh's Australian team won 16 matches on the trot, scored nearly 4 an over, but never batted more than 1 and a half days. Contrastingly SA/IND bat for almost 2 days and SA scores at only 3 an over. Our culture needs to change.

    I would suggest the following, 1) Play all matches for 5 days 2) The first innings of both teams should be over by 3 days 3) If this is also not enough, then put restrictions on second innings of both teams also.

  • Anonymous on January 7, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    In my view, Ranji trophy winners should not be decided through knock out games.. It should be purely league based.. with teams playing home and away against each other... also, points should be allocated for batting and bowling as well... not just for winning... at the end of the season, the team with maximum points should be declared winner... having home and away concept helps team in the bottom half to prepare pitches that will producer results..

  • Ashok on January 7, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    There should be league with about 12 teams, all teams play each other once (home and away alternating based on their history) and the two best league teams clash in the finals. Heck, we could even call the finals the super bowl and hold in a neutral stadium. We are looking at a three month long tournament. The national team would be playing any where for the last 4 weeks for the tournament (last 3 league games and the finals). If two months can be generated for the IPL so easily, I am sure one can be generated for the Ranji league.

  • shan on January 7, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    The whole culture of playing to get points on first innings totals must go. Introduce the English bonus point system, where extra points in a draw are awarded for aggression, not safety.

  • arun gopalakrishnan on January 7, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    Excellent point , i hope somebody brings it to the attention of the bcci.

    Arun London

  • Nikhil on January 6, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    KO maatches should be made like a super six event so that the best teams qualify for finals, also such importatant domestic matches should be a 5 day event rather than 4 day matches, Domestic events is requiring a total revamp post IPL to make it more attractive

  • neilsrini on January 6, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    The solution would be much more simple than this Akash. The rule should be that no team is allowed to bat more than 3 sessions in their first innings in any Ranji match. This would produce far more results and faster scoring.

  • le3yonk.com on January 12, 2010, 11:29 GMT

    good topic thanks

  • Girish Kulkarni on January 11, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    Good topic Akash! I agree with Dunkin's points. Without making any gross changes, simply change the point system. That will make huge difference. - give points based on: innings win, regular win, lead by number of runs (like 1 point per 25 run lead) etc -this way teams can vye for wins or bigger leads, than just 1 run lead. -Next best thing to look for is 5 day match

  • dr sajeer on January 9, 2010, 17:41 GMT

    nice article..., yes its true... but i wonder whats the use of 2nd innings? they can make it 1-1 innings game no? this will look better than whats happening right now

  • marees on January 7, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    what about putting a cap on the no of overs in the first innings? Steve Waugh's Australian team won 16 matches on the trot, scored nearly 4 an over, but never batted more than 1 and a half days. Contrastingly SA/IND bat for almost 2 days and SA scores at only 3 an over. Our culture needs to change.

    I would suggest the following, 1) Play all matches for 5 days 2) The first innings of both teams should be over by 3 days 3) If this is also not enough, then put restrictions on second innings of both teams also.

  • Anonymous on January 7, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    In my view, Ranji trophy winners should not be decided through knock out games.. It should be purely league based.. with teams playing home and away against each other... also, points should be allocated for batting and bowling as well... not just for winning... at the end of the season, the team with maximum points should be declared winner... having home and away concept helps team in the bottom half to prepare pitches that will producer results..

  • Ashok on January 7, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    There should be league with about 12 teams, all teams play each other once (home and away alternating based on their history) and the two best league teams clash in the finals. Heck, we could even call the finals the super bowl and hold in a neutral stadium. We are looking at a three month long tournament. The national team would be playing any where for the last 4 weeks for the tournament (last 3 league games and the finals). If two months can be generated for the IPL so easily, I am sure one can be generated for the Ranji league.

  • shan on January 7, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    The whole culture of playing to get points on first innings totals must go. Introduce the English bonus point system, where extra points in a draw are awarded for aggression, not safety.

  • arun gopalakrishnan on January 7, 2010, 0:30 GMT

    Excellent point , i hope somebody brings it to the attention of the bcci.

    Arun London

  • Nikhil on January 6, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    KO maatches should be made like a super six event so that the best teams qualify for finals, also such importatant domestic matches should be a 5 day event rather than 4 day matches, Domestic events is requiring a total revamp post IPL to make it more attractive

  • neilsrini on January 6, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    The solution would be much more simple than this Akash. The rule should be that no team is allowed to bat more than 3 sessions in their first innings in any Ranji match. This would produce far more results and faster scoring.

  • sharad. on January 6, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    and btw....why wasn't Akash Chopra playing in the Ranji Semifinals?

  • Arun Iyer on January 6, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    Deciding a result of a match based on 1st innings lead is not wise.Moreover the matches need to be for 5 days.But even if they end in a draw, the same rule will applyu.The knoock-out system should be abolished and every team in a elite group must play every other team in the group.There should be 5 points for win and 2 points for draw.The team that ends at top must be the champion.The last 2 will be relegated to the Plate Group for the next season and the top 2 of Plate group shall be elevated to the elite group for the next season.However under such a system also the matches should be played for 5 days in order to produce more result producing matches.

  • sharad. on January 6, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    I think for the semifinals they should have a home and away system like the football champions league....that way both teams get to play at home with home conditions and in case of both the games are drawn or both are outright wins the winner of the tie could be decided by a system where both the number of runs scored and the number of wickets are taken into account. Finals could be on a neutral venue played over 5 days and this way the neutral curator will have enough time to prepare a result oriented wicket for the finals. The only problem is that BCCI does'nt really care for the Ranji Trophy anymore....with its more handsome looking child(the IPL) getting preferential treatment.

  • Ranga on January 6, 2010, 12:24 GMT

    Agree with Arvind completely. Scrap the knockout system and install a football type league that is followed in most other countries.Let every team play at least once against all other teams. Assign higher number of points for Win (say 5 points) vs Draw (say 1 or 2) and at the end of the season, the winner is the one with most points!

  • gokul on January 6, 2010, 11:27 GMT

    it is clearly evident 4 days are not enough and we have senior cricketers advising 4 days to save the test matches...what an irony

  • FanCric on January 6, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    What is more worrying is the hectic schedule because of that bullsh*t, non-sense IPL. This non-sense IPL is ruing every aspect of Cricket.

  • sagar on January 6, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Wats the need to prepare batsmen friendly pitches.Curators can prepare green tops r vicious turning tracks . they can test batsmen technique.strongest among the herd must live.end result is imp than first innings lead

  • Praveen on January 5, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    Teams must be given points for their performance(lead, run rate, opposition like ICC ratings). Getting first inns lead alone must be scrapped. Why dont we make these games a five day event. Percentage of result producing matches will definitely increase but up to some level. Appreciate Akash for this important post.

  • Anilkumar Mutthugundi on January 5, 2010, 7:03 GMT

    Answering to Arjun, If the team batting second doesn't get dismissed at the end of 4th day, then net run rate will come into picture. This had happened once in early 90's. Karnataka had scored 791 runs a t the run rate of 3.17. In reply West Bengal scored 519 for the loss of 9 wickets at the run rate of 3.21. And eventually West Bengal advanced to the final.

  • Arun on January 5, 2010, 0:25 GMT

    true...there has to be some incentive..But we need more that strikes at the very base for playing the game.. In situations where games are decided on first innings..it would make sense to a use a combination of the run rate overrate of the bowling team, # of wickets lost when both teams had identical scores and a combination of who was responsible in getting to the winning total - was it the specialist batsmen or non regular batsmen..was it a great bowling/ fielding effort..as in which team put in a more overall team effort..etc...

  • Arunkumar on January 4, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    Last year & this year TN was the top team in group stages having maximum points. They scored 461 in their first innings,which is good,but the oppsition Delhi batted for next 2.5 days to crawl past the 1st innings mark and snatched the match from TN. The system doesnt give a chance to the consistent team while it rewards inconsistent teams. The pitch is also a reason. The team bowling second easily loses hope seeing the pitch,they take it as a lost cause. The pitches needs to be more bowler friendly and give some assitance. This way, the batting teams will always be on toes. In group stages, Dinesh Karthik declared very early and went for the outright win and he got it for TN. Same attitude should be there for other captains as well. The knockout stage should not have the first innings lead as the only criteria,say may e include the runrate as well.In this way, if the second batting team is intentionall playing slow, even if they get the first inings lead,they need not be the winner.

  • Arjun on January 4, 2010, 16:19 GMT

    Aakash is very right!!The first inns lead should be scrapped to make first class cricket in india better.Even today,two teams (Karnataka and Mumbai)almost batted for two full days and scored big without caring about the run rate..I have a question here,We see quite a few teams batting almost 2 days and scoring a huge 1st inns total.My question is,Who will be declared the winner if the team batting 2nd hasn't completed its 1st inns before the end of 4 days?I'm not sure whether this has happened or not..

  • santhosh kudva on January 4, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    about the same time as the first round of this season's ranji trophy, the Sheffield shield was being played in australia. tasmania and south australia made sporting declarations, well below their opponent's total, and emerged triumphant. i must also mention that the opponents also took cue from the gesture and set up the matches. that explains why australian cricket is the way it is and indian cricket the way it is.

  • Amar on January 4, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    It's not a competition at all. Teams playing for 1st innings leads and winning games is not we want to see. Imagine a team like Mumbai or karnataka winning eventual trophy merely on 1st innings lead..can we call that team a champion team?? They can be at the most called Champions of 1st innings. Knock out matches should be played only on Test centers and on sporting pitches and should be 5 day affair. Afterall players of these rounds likely to get call ups to Indian team and they should be ready to handle the pressures. They will be ready for challenges only if BCCI provide them international standards at this level. They need to reinvest the money they earn from T20's and TV rights back to game.

  • Gautam on January 4, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    I would suggest having a home and away set of matches for the knockout rounds. That would give the team losing the first match a chance to come back. (But this could make the Ranji season longer.That can be compensated for by having three groups instead of four and thereby reducing the number of qualifying matches to be played.) This could force teams to produce result oriented pitches for their home games( and also have some home support).

  • Preet on January 4, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    5 day matches from the knock out stage are a must. At the same time sporting pitches like the one at the Brabourne are the need of the hour. The Mumbai vs Delhi match is an interesting one whereas the Karnataka vs UP match is heading towards a 'batting' draw

  • Dunkin Jalki on January 4, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    Here are my two bits worth suggestions:

    Have very elaborately drawn mechanism of awarding the points for the teams. Somehting like the following plan:

    1. 10 points for the winning team 2. In a drawn match, if the difference of runs in the first innings is less than 25 then equal points for both the team. If the difference is more than 100 runs then the leading team will get 4 and the other team gets 1...etc. etc. 3. A victory with the margin of an innings will have more points than a simple win etc. 4. Instead of a knockout round, let the total points decide the two finalists. And in the final, if a team wins it gets the trophy; if the match is drawn then both the teams share the trophy.

    :-)

  • Siddharth on January 4, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    The only option for producing results in the knockout stage is to go for matches which are scheduled for six days or maybe seven days (max). This would guarantee hundred percent results.

  • Anirudh on January 4, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    The Indian Domestic cricket scene needs an overhaul - Akash needs to be applauded for his efforts and insight. The number of draws, with runs being scored at less than 3 rpo, is not only ruining the competition as mentioned but also removing all interest whatsoever of any crowd support. In order to make Ranji more followed, the Board needs to bring in more innovations to the game. Similar to the Aussie league, the batting teams must be made to declare - after 120 overs or so and the points for 1st innings lead should be relooked at. Most importantly, pitches should be result oriented - this also applied for international matches. Unlike ODIs and T20s, the pitch is extremely important to uphold the importance of Test matches - we should expect to see a result in every match. And also, Railways should be removed for their extremely slow batting. ;)

  • Harikumar on January 4, 2010, 9:42 GMT

    I agree with Arvind. We could do away with the knockout stages and probably replace it with a super four league to decide the winner from top two of each group. The teams should also play for an outright win. Delhi vs TN quarterfinal match was sad. Delhi were determined to bat as long as possible to overhaul 463 and hence the match meandered till the 4th day with the first innings' yet to be completed. It is not necessary for 5 day matches to provide a result. Only a consistent performance should be rewarded and not the one off bravado.

  • Anand Athawale on January 4, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    The comments are sent to BCCI and ICC. from Anand Athawale toinfo@bcci.tv, enquiry@icc-cricket.com

    dateWed, Aug 12, 2009 at 9:43 PM subjectFour day Test--my thoughts. mailed-bygmail.com

    hide details 8/12/09

    SUB:- Four Day Test Series

    Dear Sir,

    The idea of four day Test Cricket is rooted in bringing back spectators to stadium. I suggest following format for the consideration of cricket authorities.

    1) The two innings of Test Cricket should be of 120 overs and 60 overs.

    To add masala(THRILL) i) It should be left to respective captains to decide whether their First inning should be of 120 overs or 60 overs. If the team going for 120 overs gets out in say 100 overs , then remaining 20 overs may be added to its Second inning . In this case Second inning for that team would be of 80 overs(60+20) subject to upper limit of 120 overs. ii) The captains may be allowed to replace two players any time during the duration of Test match.

  • Rajit on January 4, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Pretty fair assessment of the state of the premier domestic tournament.Knock out games should be a five day affair and there needs to be atleast 4 days gap between two games for travel,practice and recuperation.BCCI needs to add some "spunk" to domestic tournaments apart from IPL.

  • ppr on January 4, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    Neutral venues is a bad idea. I thought the idea was to have one team playing at home so that you may draw spectators.

    There needs to be more publicity of domestic cricket. We need to have spectator friendly stadiums so we can take the family to watch a day of cricket. The best place to do this would be domestic cricket.

    How about day night Ranji trophy games? That might draw crowds as well as TV audiences. Also better food inside the stadium and easier access. Also make sure of attractive rewards for the player for a result rather than a draw. Sporting pitches would also go a long way towards this.

    All this may be expecting a lot from a Cricket board which schedules 2 test matches in a year for the Indian team.

  • Balamurugan R on January 4, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Cash reward for players forcing the win!!! I think we should reward the curators who prepare the sporting wickets i-e result produced on the last day of any Ranji match. And punish the curators who prepare the Batting paradise like the one for Guj-Mumbai 2009 Ranji match. Rewarding the curators are the best way to produce good cricketers as well.

    If every match produces the result, the domestic statistics will also tell you the truth who is playing well.

    And Ban the idea of any team batting on the last day after taking a size able lead (In HP - Mumbai match, Mumbai must have been banned for batting so long.. It is not sporting at all)

  • FanCric on January 4, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    This is a serious issue. This amount Drawn games are unacceptable.

    Neutral Venues and Neutral Curators are superb moves and it should be ensured that Venues and Curators are neutral and impartial.

    Four Days for Knockout Games are not at all good. Pitch should be made so sportive and bowler friendly that three days should be enough to ensure a result and four days should be maximum to get result.

    Sportive and Bowler friendly wicket will ensure that only Technically solid batsmen can find their feet in International arena.

  • Arvind on January 4, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Seriously, what is the need for these knockout games? It gives opportunity for teams that have flunked throughout the season to snatch the trophy by taking 1st innings lead in 3 games. As I have said in response to one of your previous articles as well, get rid of the knockout games entirely. That would make the league games more "serious". Too often, teams play just to "qualify" for the next round than to win.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Arvind on January 4, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    Seriously, what is the need for these knockout games? It gives opportunity for teams that have flunked throughout the season to snatch the trophy by taking 1st innings lead in 3 games. As I have said in response to one of your previous articles as well, get rid of the knockout games entirely. That would make the league games more "serious". Too often, teams play just to "qualify" for the next round than to win.

  • FanCric on January 4, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    This is a serious issue. This amount Drawn games are unacceptable.

    Neutral Venues and Neutral Curators are superb moves and it should be ensured that Venues and Curators are neutral and impartial.

    Four Days for Knockout Games are not at all good. Pitch should be made so sportive and bowler friendly that three days should be enough to ensure a result and four days should be maximum to get result.

    Sportive and Bowler friendly wicket will ensure that only Technically solid batsmen can find their feet in International arena.

  • Balamurugan R on January 4, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Cash reward for players forcing the win!!! I think we should reward the curators who prepare the sporting wickets i-e result produced on the last day of any Ranji match. And punish the curators who prepare the Batting paradise like the one for Guj-Mumbai 2009 Ranji match. Rewarding the curators are the best way to produce good cricketers as well.

    If every match produces the result, the domestic statistics will also tell you the truth who is playing well.

    And Ban the idea of any team batting on the last day after taking a size able lead (In HP - Mumbai match, Mumbai must have been banned for batting so long.. It is not sporting at all)

  • ppr on January 4, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    Neutral venues is a bad idea. I thought the idea was to have one team playing at home so that you may draw spectators.

    There needs to be more publicity of domestic cricket. We need to have spectator friendly stadiums so we can take the family to watch a day of cricket. The best place to do this would be domestic cricket.

    How about day night Ranji trophy games? That might draw crowds as well as TV audiences. Also better food inside the stadium and easier access. Also make sure of attractive rewards for the player for a result rather than a draw. Sporting pitches would also go a long way towards this.

    All this may be expecting a lot from a Cricket board which schedules 2 test matches in a year for the Indian team.

  • Rajit on January 4, 2010, 8:17 GMT

    Pretty fair assessment of the state of the premier domestic tournament.Knock out games should be a five day affair and there needs to be atleast 4 days gap between two games for travel,practice and recuperation.BCCI needs to add some "spunk" to domestic tournaments apart from IPL.

  • Anand Athawale on January 4, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    The comments are sent to BCCI and ICC. from Anand Athawale toinfo@bcci.tv, enquiry@icc-cricket.com

    dateWed, Aug 12, 2009 at 9:43 PM subjectFour day Test--my thoughts. mailed-bygmail.com

    hide details 8/12/09

    SUB:- Four Day Test Series

    Dear Sir,

    The idea of four day Test Cricket is rooted in bringing back spectators to stadium. I suggest following format for the consideration of cricket authorities.

    1) The two innings of Test Cricket should be of 120 overs and 60 overs.

    To add masala(THRILL) i) It should be left to respective captains to decide whether their First inning should be of 120 overs or 60 overs. If the team going for 120 overs gets out in say 100 overs , then remaining 20 overs may be added to its Second inning . In this case Second inning for that team would be of 80 overs(60+20) subject to upper limit of 120 overs. ii) The captains may be allowed to replace two players any time during the duration of Test match.

  • Harikumar on January 4, 2010, 9:42 GMT

    I agree with Arvind. We could do away with the knockout stages and probably replace it with a super four league to decide the winner from top two of each group. The teams should also play for an outright win. Delhi vs TN quarterfinal match was sad. Delhi were determined to bat as long as possible to overhaul 463 and hence the match meandered till the 4th day with the first innings' yet to be completed. It is not necessary for 5 day matches to provide a result. Only a consistent performance should be rewarded and not the one off bravado.

  • Anirudh on January 4, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    The Indian Domestic cricket scene needs an overhaul - Akash needs to be applauded for his efforts and insight. The number of draws, with runs being scored at less than 3 rpo, is not only ruining the competition as mentioned but also removing all interest whatsoever of any crowd support. In order to make Ranji more followed, the Board needs to bring in more innovations to the game. Similar to the Aussie league, the batting teams must be made to declare - after 120 overs or so and the points for 1st innings lead should be relooked at. Most importantly, pitches should be result oriented - this also applied for international matches. Unlike ODIs and T20s, the pitch is extremely important to uphold the importance of Test matches - we should expect to see a result in every match. And also, Railways should be removed for their extremely slow batting. ;)

  • Siddharth on January 4, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    The only option for producing results in the knockout stage is to go for matches which are scheduled for six days or maybe seven days (max). This would guarantee hundred percent results.

  • Dunkin Jalki on January 4, 2010, 10:39 GMT

    Here are my two bits worth suggestions:

    Have very elaborately drawn mechanism of awarding the points for the teams. Somehting like the following plan:

    1. 10 points for the winning team 2. In a drawn match, if the difference of runs in the first innings is less than 25 then equal points for both the team. If the difference is more than 100 runs then the leading team will get 4 and the other team gets 1...etc. etc. 3. A victory with the margin of an innings will have more points than a simple win etc. 4. Instead of a knockout round, let the total points decide the two finalists. And in the final, if a team wins it gets the trophy; if the match is drawn then both the teams share the trophy.

    :-)