Maharashtra v Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy, Group B, Pune November 11, 2012

Raina slams Maharashtra's defensive tactics


When a team sets the opposition a target of 765 in a maximum of 169 overs in order to attain the first-innings lead, the game is as good as killed once the chasing side doesn't lose early wickets. Maharashtra's weird tactics in their Ranji Trophy season opener against Uttar Pradesh in Pune have drawn the ire of opposition captain Suresh Raina, who minced no words in criticising Dermot Reeve, the former England allrounder and newly-appointed Maharashtra coach.

"They have a foreign coach and he needs to teach good things to youngsters," Raina said after UP finished the penultimate day on 287 for 1 in reply to Maharashtra's 764 for 6 declared. "I am not against anyone but at the same time, he is earning [Rs] 30-40 lakh [3-4 million] per season, so he needs to teach youngsters in a good way. Two-and-a-half days. We can also do the same when they come to play against us next time, but we all have to keep on improving our cricket."

Had Maharashtra declared just after Kedar Jadhav completed a triple ton on the second evening, their bowlers would have got a shot at the tired UP openers. But they continued to bat till bat 35 minutes into the third morning on a track that just doesn't have any assistance for the bowlers.

"I am unhappy with the way they have approached the game," Raina said. "Perhaps they were scared of us. Jadhav played well and the captain [Rohit Motwani] as well but they needed to give us time to chase well. If they really want to achieve their goal of doing well in the Ranji Trophy, there's no point in batting for almost two-and-a-half days and asking us to chase 765. But still we managed to reach almost 300 today. You might see something different from the UP team tomorrow."

Howsoever optimistic Raina tried to be, he eventually admitted it was virtually impossible to score nearly 480 runs in a day. "We will see how it goes in the first session. I am slated to bat next and then we have Piyush [Chawla], Parvinder [Singh], Arish Alam as well, so we have a long batting line-up. Still you can't look to chase more than 460 on the last day. Somewhere around 340-350 is gettable but 460 is virtually out of question.

"I am not happy with these tactics. We won against Delhi and when we came here - this is their first game - I thought they would try and improve on where they had left last season. But they were safe, they were too defensive. Hopefully they will improve over the next couple of games."

It wasn't just the tactics. Raina was equally critical of the pitch which was nothing but a batsman's paradise. "No bounce, no pace, no spin. There is literally nothing in it for the bowlers. They work so hard on their game, there has to be something in it for them. There are some who need to pick a lot of wickets in order to come back into the Indian team but they can't do anything about it when you have such wickets."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • HNL on November 12, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    Definitely, there got to be a clause in Ranji rules where the team batting first cannot extend their innings beyond 150 overs at any cost. We have seen 3 matches with tall scores and first innings not even completed after 4 days and nearly 350 overs bowled. This is utterly disgusting and shameful state of affairs. No wonder India cannot produce good results when traveling overseas. One way to stop a team misusing the home condition as an advantage would be to devalue the first innings lead or victory by giving only 50% of the points (for the home team only) while an away win should carry 50% more than the normal points awarded for a win. This way, manipulations will be reduced to some extent at least and the tournament itself might look more balanced and reasonable. There has to be different weightage for home and away wins. This will help separate really good teams from ordinary ones in the competition.

  • raghavan on November 12, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Why are some teams producing dead tracks and looking for draws again this season?Are they not bothered about losing 3 points by not going for a win?Look at Punjab,they have 2 outright wins at their home pitch of Mohali and it has good pace and bounce for all these years.Another really good pitch is Bangalore which was once lifeless prior to 1996 World Cup.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Suresh Raina has a point here. It was too defensive tactic by Maharashtra. Even though teams scoring 500 and 600 in this round are seeing teams overhaul that to take 3 points, but if Maharashtra were concerned, they should have increased their run-rate. The BCCI should enforce a rule that a team can bat upto only a maximum of overs, and if they continue they face a deduction of poin. ts

  • Mandar on November 12, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    Moreover see what happened with Gujrat.... declared on score of 600.. and their opposition scored 700 batting second..Blame BCCI admins for state of pitches but don't blame teams, captains, coaches..... it might sound a negative tactic to bat on.. but they really have no option on runways....

  • Mandar on November 12, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Dount count chickens until eggs are hatched...... It was fitting to see Raina goign for a duck after making atrocious statements like in article above... The final run difference between 2 sides is just 90 it was a perfect decision by Maharashtra /Dermot Reeve to bat on.... Yes MCA should be criticized for coming up with such runways... but Raina needs to be repreimanded by BCCI(if CSK... N Srinivasan really cares).. for making comments on reputed people like Dermot Reeve like he has done above... that language is straight from a street fight and doesn't suit for a state team's captain...

  • Shantanu on November 12, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    I think Raina is spot on about the nature of the pitch at Pune. Such pitches serve no purpose. BCCI should look to prepare result oriented pitches. The domestic cricket should be so tight that players shouldnt find themselves at loss when they graduate to international level. We had two 4-0 results away and it looks like BCCI hasnt learned anything from those whitewashes. I read in the blog that BCCI's direction to curators is to prepare 550 runs first innings pitches which is another lopsided policy for 4 day game. The points award policy encourages pitches at Pune as there is no point in giving points on first innings lead. As of cricticising Maharashtra tactics - I dont think I have any problems as the nature of pitch demanded huge first innings total. Look at Gujarat- Saurashtra & TN-Karnataka games where sides with big 1st innings totals even after declaring lost points on first innings. Pitch is the culprit. BCCI are you listening ?

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    As long as first innings lead carries points, this will continue to happen. It is not really that difficult to solve the problem. First, stop calling a win as 'outright win', which would change the perception that a first innings lead is also a win of a lesser kind. It is not a win, it is just a draw. Second, stop giving points for first innings lead but only use them as tie-breakers at the end of the league, to decide between teams tied on equal points. Third, bonus points could be given for winning games with 2 or 3 sessions remaining. This would automatically prevent home teams from preparing dead pitches, and then gambling on the toss and batting for all eternity. It would also encourage sporting declarations to push for a quick victory.

  • Vijay on November 12, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    Raina slams Pune for producing a batsman friendly pitch.......and gets out for a duck....And we talk about this guy getting into the national test squad...What a joke!

  • Vivek on November 12, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Ironically, this comment is from some one who thrives only on No bounce, No pace, no spin pitches. This is how you made your career in the national team and when it comes back , why complain??

  • Ramakrishnan on November 12, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    Teams piling up runs on docile and benign pitches in India is not an isolated event. It is just that the UP team was at the receiving end and Suresh Raina is captaining UP against Maharashtra. Instead of blaming the opposition Coach to educate the youngsters in the Maharashtra team, Raina should have voiced his disapproval at the state of the pitch to BCCI. This is like barking up the wrong tree. One question to Raina - would you have declared the UP innings after reaching 300 or 400 on batting first?

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