January 3, 2010

Ranji Trophy, 2009-10

How to reduce draws in knock-out matches

Aakash Chopra


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
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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.

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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

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Posted by le3yonk.com on (January 12, 2010, 11:29 GMT)

good topic thanks

Posted by 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

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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..

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by arun gopalakrishnan on (January 7, 2010, 0:30 GMT)

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

Arun London

Posted by 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

Posted by 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.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
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.

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