Ranji Trophy 2013-14

Ranji pitches and points system in focus

Nagraj Gollapudi

October 26, 2013

Comments: 2 | Text size: A | A

Lights are switched on as cloud cover ruined the light at Mohali stadium, India v England, 2nd Test, Mohali, 1st day, March 9, 2006
Mohali was one of the few Ranji grounds fast bowlers prospered on last season Ben Radford / © Getty Images
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With another Ranji Trophy season set to begin, the familiar complaints about the quality of pitches and the points system are in the spotlight again. Too many sides are happy to roll out flat tracks and convert matches into first-innings batting shootouts. There were a few exceptions like Rohtak and Mohali, where bowlers enjoyed themselves last season, but in many other venues centuries came easily.

At the start of the 2012-13 season, under the supervision of Sanjay Jagdale, the former BCCI secretary, the board had asked the pitch and grounds committee to prepare true pitches. At the BCCI's captains and coaches meeting held at the end of the previous season, Jagdale had pointed out that the percentage of outright victories had actually increased overall across the country, though only marginally. Last year, in 115 Ranji matches, there were 45 outright results (39.1%), while in 2011-12 there were 34 outright results in 88 matches (38.6%).

Still, the bland nature of the surfaces has forced teams to target the three points on offer for taking a first-innings lead in a draw. "The standard of the wickets has to be improved a lot," Mumbai's coach, Sulakshan Kulkarni, said. Mumbai, traditionally the powerhouses of Indian domestic cricket, had only one outright victory in the league phase last season, but still accumulated enough points to sneak into the quarter-finals.

Tamil Nadu coach, WV Raman, remains positive that pitches will improve with time. "The directive to not have the tracks that were really flat or facilitate a run-fest has changed the dynamics somewhat," he said. "Teams will have to be patient before every venue implements the right measures."

More than the pitches, Raman said the grey area is the awarding of points to teams. Last year, the number of points awarded for a victory was increased from five to six, while the points for taking the first-innings lead in a draw was retained at three.

Raman felt teams needed to be given even more motivation to not settle for draws. "I still stick to my guns that the points system has to be changed," he said. "You still need to give some incentive to force the issue and go for outright victory, then it becomes a habit. We should also help teams learn to play under pressure and play to win."

One change both Kulkarni and Raman are happy with is the BCCI technical committee's move to give an additional day's break between group matches starting from the fourth round. The coaches felt the extra rest would help keep the best players fit throughout the campaign.

"The main reason is to give a break to fast bowlers," Kulkarni said. "Because injuries to them has become the biggest worry not only for the domestic teams but also for players who are on the fringes of selection into the Indian team."

Plenty of quick bowlers including Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel, Varun Aaron and Zaheer Khan have spent lot of time recovering from injuries at the NCA in recent years. A coach of a prominent team chirps that the NCA was becoming renowned as a National Rehabilitation Centre, instead of an academy that grooms and readies a pool of match-fit players. The extra day's break will hopefully help the quicks maintain their fitness and make more of an impact on India's premier first-class tournament.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Nampally on (October 26, 2013, 23:10 GMT)

On dead Indian pitches there is very little chance for an outright result in most matches. Hence basically it is reduced to farcical one innings match- whichever side scoring more wins. To make the contest more realistic, why not resort to 90 overs/innings. In 4 days 2 innings matches can be completed by bowling 90 overs/day. - Result at the conclusion of 4 days is assured, if not interrupted by rain. It gives both the sides an opportunity to bat twice & bowlers a good chance to take wkts. This is a Win/Win situation. Present format acts like a "killing Field" for Cricket. From last 4 stage, it could be a 5 day match with 110 overs per innings & a new ball taken at the half way point- after 55 overs. If the present format is to be retained, make the pitches with more grass left on so that bowlers have a sporting chance to bowl the side out.

Posted by crikkfan on (October 26, 2013, 21:49 GMT)

No of points for draw should be reduced from 3 to 2 and the win kept at 6. This way the incentive is three times for a win than a draw - very similar to soccer where a draw gets a point and win gets 3.

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