November 30, 2010

Rajasthan v Jaipur, Ranji Trophy Plate Leage, Group A, Japur

A rulebook beyond reason

Aakash Chopra
Rain washes out the first day of Tamil Nadu's Ranji season, Tamil Nadu v Baroda, Ranji Trophy Elite 2011-12, Chennai, November 3, 2011
A rethink is needed on rain rules in Ranji Trophy  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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This is the story of a game that was being touted as an exciting encounter, between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The two teams fought tooth and nail for over three days and nearly 300 overs. Batting first, Rajasthan had to deal with incessant showers, poor light and moisture in the track. MP had to deal with the pressure created by the mountain of runs, but more importantly time, for there wasn't enough to overhaul the total and gain the first-innings lead. Since both teams were tied on equal number of points after two games, it was imperative to not concede the advantage. The lack of an outright result pinched, yet it made for some intriguing play as both the important Ts - technique and the temperament - were tested in the process.

Shockingly, though, both teams didn't get even a single point from the hard-fought dual. The rulebook says that if more than 90 overs are lost in a match; both teams share one point each in case both teams fail to complete their first innings. Fair enough, but if less than 90 overs are lost and the first innings is not completed, you walk away with no points.

Despite losing almost a full day to rain, which means 90 overs, teams didn't lose 90 overs of play in four days. They made up for the lost time by extending the post-lunch session by half an hour and playing till the light permitted on the remaining days. While it was a good effort to get maximum number of overs in, it boomeranged. Perhaps, losing more than 90 overs was a better deal, thanks to a rather mysterious rule. How perplexing it is to know that one gets a point for even conceding the first-innings lead, while in this case the teams got none.

Hyderabad were blown away for 21 in the first innings against Rajasthan and then subsequently in the match and quite justifiably got no points. You can penalise a team for playing poorly, but can certainly not reprimand them for not giving any quarters to the opposition. In fact, playing poorly can also fetch you one point, if you concede the lead.

This could well be a classic situation to throw away the match too. If both teams were tied on the same number of points and one team needed the points to either get promoted or stave off relegation, it was worth allowing the opposition to either overhaul the total, or throw away wickets to concede the first-innings lead. This would at least ensure one point which is definitely better than none. Undoubtedly then, there is an obvious flaw in this rule, for it may force people to change the natural course of the match in order to gain a point.

You might say that since both teams didn't get a point, nobody lost out. But little do we realise that it allowed Hyderabad to come even at the points table and are now joint third at the top. A point for each team would have steered them clear of rest. For now though, Rajasthan & MP pay for the absurdity of certain bizarre rules.

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 SterlingNkelli on (April 3, 2012, 16:47 GMT)

Dead easy. to win a cricket match you have to score the most runs AND bowl the other team out twice. Declarations count as all boelwd out for this purpose. So its possible that a team could have a 200 point lead from the first innings, then rattle up 400 more runs in the second ,but because they fail to bowl out the team in the second innings it would be classed as a draw. The points awarded aren't equal though as batting and bowling bonus points are awarded for first innings performances. If its in limited over cricket, then a draw results when both teams score exactly the same. wickets taken should count, in my mind, but don'tChris

Posted by Vinay Bhatt on (December 28, 2010, 16:46 GMT)

The case of Haryana is more patheic they are punished altohough they have given bettr performance in the QF. the reason for losing time is natural which is a factor beyond the consideration of merits of either team and canbe attributted to some thing beyond merits. so it would not be correct to to bring merits in the decisions sply when the team is being knocked out it would be more fair to decide such cases on toss of coin which would give fair chance to both the teams

Posted by Srini on (November 30, 2010, 17:25 GMT)

One can see through out Indian domestic Ranji Trophy history, teams have taken advantage of weird rules likes this one from time to time to their advantage. That's OK and part and parcel of the thrill as long as it was not done to alter the course of match (in which case it would be considered match fixing!).

It also shows that rules have to be reviewed periodically to prevent absurdity.

Posted by Abhishek on (November 30, 2010, 16:53 GMT)

Totally agree, this rule is absolutely rubbish. Both teams should have been awarded a point each.

Posted by Gokul on (November 30, 2010, 14:24 GMT)

Excellent post, Aakash! It's good to hear these things from a cricketer's perspective.

Posted by Sailesh on (November 30, 2010, 11:07 GMT)

This is similar to a rule in the ICC Intercontinental Cup. If a match in that competition gets washed out without a ball being played, both teams get 10 points each, which is fair given that 20 points are at stake in every game. However, if a match ends in a draw, the team that got the lead gets 9 points and the other team gets 3 points. If neither team has managed to get a lead within the play that was possible, both teams get 6 points. Like you said, quite bizarre.

In my opinion, the entire business of points for first innings leads should be done away with. We don't count the number of leads in test match cricket, and we shouldn't be doing it in domestic cricket either. 3 points for an outright win (or even 4 if you want to encourage teams to win), 1 for a draw and none for a loss should be the way to go.

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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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