India domestic news August 8, 2014

BCCI sanctions neutral venues for Ranji knockouts

The BCCI has decided to stage all the Ranji Trophy knockout games at neutral venues in the 2014-15 season. This would mean a change to current norm by which knockouts are played on a rotational home-and-away basis.

The decision was recommended by the technical committee recently and was formalised during the tour, programme and fixtures committee meeting in Mumbai on Friday. The neutral venues will be shortlisted by the ground and pitches committee, based on the performance of pitches in the league stage.

In the previous season, three of the four quarter-finals and a semi-final were played on the home turf of one of the competing teams due to the home-and-away policy. Earlier, in 2007-08 and 2008-09, the BCCI had implemented the concept of staging knockout games at neutral venues. However, it reverted to the home-and-away format after Sachin Tendulkar expressed that home advantage should be enjoyed in the Ranji Trophy knockouts.

The tour, programme and fixtures committee meeting, which was chaired by Rajiv Shukla via videoconferencing, also finalised the domestic season schedule. As per the technical committee's recommendation of playing the one-day tournaments before the Ranji Trophy, keeping the World Cup in mind, the inter-state and zonal one-day tournaments will be played in November and December.

The domestic season will kick off with the zonal first-class tournament, the Duleep Trophy, which will be played from October 15 to November 3, while the zonal one-dayers - the Deodhar Trophy - will be played from November 7 to 14. The Vijay Hazare Trophy, the all-India one-day knockouts, will be staged from November 19 to 25.

The Ranji Trophy, which used to begin in the last week of October ever since the multi-tiered system was introduced, will now start on December 7. The Ranji final will be from March 8 to 12, which will effectively clash with the 2015 World Cup.

Despite the BCCI deciding to defer the Corporate Trophy and the Challenger Series, the board has not been able to space out the Ranji Trophy league matches properly. While the first five rounds of the league stage will have only three days between matches, the last three games will be played with a four-day break between them.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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