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A bulk of the Ranji Trophy matches played this season were neither won nor lost, they were drawn. So much so, that only one outright win was enough to take Mumbai into the finals this season. The loop holes in the points system, perhaps, gave Mumbai the leeway to not force the issue and hence find their way through.
The BCCI’s scheme of granting one bonus point for every outright win with ten wickets or an innings could prove to be a good attempt in taking things forward. The plan, in fact secured Delhi its place in the Ranji knock-outs. Yet, most teams are not willing to go that extra yard. After all, taking twenty wickets is quite a task, which requires both quality and physical strength amongst the bowlers.
Perhaps, it’s time to give the Ranji Trophy a facelift and make the ‘system’ and the approach a lot more exciting. How about making the first-innings lead not as significant in the scheme of things? How about giving teams a substantial initiative for winning the game?
My suggestion would be to:
a) introduce the system of grace points for batting and bowling b) to either completely do away with the points for first-innings lead, or to give them away nominally.
Sample this – A maximum of five batting points shall be awarded starting with 125 runs on the scorecard. After which the batting team would get a point each for every 75 runs scored till they reach a total of 425 runs, which means a maximum of five batting points. For the bowling team, every two wickets taken would mean a bowling point.
Now to make things a bit more interesting, the batting points would only be available till the 125th over. This essentially means the batting side has to maintain a healthy scoring rate of 3.40 runs per over, ensuring that teams don’t consume time without scoring at a brisk rate. As for the bowling side, they can get bowling points till the entire opposition is bowled out. By doing this the batting side would want to declare after batting for 125 overs as it’s only the bowling side which can gain points after that. Points for the team which bags the first-innings lead could also be granted, though not in excess.
As for the second innings, there should be at least ten points at stake for an outright win. By doing this both teams would try to set up the match in a way where both teams have a realistic chance of winning the game. The team batting last will have a good chance to win the game and hence teams may be tempted to field first on more occasions. This may also negate the impact of the toss on the game.
This system can be followed in the league phase because if some teams still don’t force the issue, they run a risk of finding themselves in the relegation zone very quickly. But for the knockouts, we can put a limit to the maximum number of overs at a team’s disposal (125 overs in the first innings and 100 overs each in the second assuming it’s a five-day match) which in turn would give us an outright result every time.
© 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.