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November 27, 2007
No more Plate finals
The Ranji Trophy Plate League will have semi-finals and a final for the last time this season. Under the new system, ratified by the BCCI Working Committee last week, the leaders of the two groups in the Plate League will qualify for the Super League quarterfinals along with the three top teams from each Super League group.
This means a team from the Plate League could end up winning the Ranji Trophy if it is on the favourable side of three draws. The positive of the move, though, is that the teams get rewarded immediately for a good performance in the Plate League, as opposed to a promotion to the Super League the following season. But it's open to debate if the best team in the Plate League group is better than the fourth-placed team in a Super League group.
This year's points standing provides an immediate case study. If rain severely affects the match between Delhi and Tamil Nadu in Chennai, Delhi could finish fourth in Group A of the Super League, even though they are a strong team and have done well. If the ruling were to be enforced this year, they could have lost a quarter-final spot to Railways, who are leading Group B in the Plate League.
This move doesn't really remove the original problem of too many teams diluting the competition in the Super League.
Long arm of the law
When given out lbw off Praveen Kumar at Kolkata, Manoj Tiwary stood aghast - bat slightly pointing towards umpire, words on his lips, and anger in his eyes - and walked off reluctantly. PTI reported he had words with both umpires on his way back and more when the umpires were headed in for lunch.
Chhota dada lost 50% of his match fee for his antics but there seems to be some previous between him and Ranade. cricketnext.com reports that it was the latest in a string of contentious decisions by Ranade involving Tiwary. Earlier this season, when India A played South Africa A in a one-day match at Rajkot, Tiwary was given out caught - though apparently off the helmet - by Ranade. Last year in Hyderabad, Ranade declared Tiwary out lbw while there seemed to be a deflection, the website reported.
Aakash Chopra was sawn off for the second time in two matches, adding to his woes a week after Delhi team-mate Virender Sehwag made it to the squad ahead of him for the Test series in Australia. While Chopra sought to be philosophical and saw it as just another occupational hazard, Pravin Amre, Mumbai's coach, lashed out at the umpires. After Mumbai failed to bowl Himachal Pradesh out in their second innings, Amre was quoted as saying in the Times of India: "[Abhishek] Nayar and Ramesh Powar had both got [Ashok] Thakur early on - lbw and caught behind respectively -- but they were denied. Earlier, Rohit Sharma, Amol Muzumdar and Ajit Agarkar were incorrectly given out. This is the sixth match and I have not spoken against the standard of umpiring so far. But it has hurt us badly in every game. We are having to take 15 wickets in every innings."
While the umpiring standards are not surprising, it is surprising that only Tiwary has been fined for showing dissent. It could have to do with that being the only match being shown live on TV.
What's in a name
Over the last week or two, Ranadeb Bose has been compared to Sourav Ganguly in terms of pace by a national selector, omitted from the invitees' list for the BCCI awards night where he was an winner, and his second name was changed on the team list in the match against Uttar Pradesh.
He was called Ranadeb Mondal on the official list given by Bengal, which could have resulted in a protest by the UP team. On the first afternoon, the Bengal officials desperately went about trying to get the mistake corrected by the match referee Inderjit Singh Sachdeva, the Indian Express reported. In case of a factual error on the team list, the team at fault has to play without that particular player. In an earlier game, against Punjab at Siliguri, Bengal had failed to mention Bose's name in the team-list, the paper reported. The mistake was rectified during the match.
VRV Singh became the third bowler to take a hat-trick in two rounds of Ranji Trophy matches. And like the previous two - by Sony Cheruvathur and Parvinder Awana - this one too set up a win and also helped Punjab avoid relegation. VRV dismissed Niranjan Behera off the last ball of his fifth over and Rashmi Parida and Rashmi Das with the first two of his sixth, as Orissa collapsed from 24 for 0 to 76 all out in the second innings.
"To be honest, it wouldn't have been as bad had Gautam [Gambhir] made it ahead of me.": Aakash Chopra told Mid-Day about his exclusion from the squad for the Tests in Australia. "But Viru [Sehwag] - although he is a very good friend of mine - being picked ahead of both of us is a bit shocking. He was not even named in the provisional squad. In that sense, I have every right to be disappointed."
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