Ranji Trophy Final, 2008-09 January 11, 2009

Final rule confuses Mumbai

Mumbai have expressed their dismay and surprise at the rules for the Ranji Trophy final that state that if a team's first innings is incomplete, the winner will be decided on the run rate. The provision for this is that team batting second must play at least 30 overs, and Wasim Jaffer, Mumbai's captain, said he was unaware of this rule until he met the matchreferee Diwakar Vasu today for the pre-game briefing.

"The rules are confusing for the final," said Jaffer. "For instance, if we score 700 off 200 overs and then Uttar Pradesh are 150 for 9 in 30 overs, they will win the title. In a four-day or a five-day match, there's no need to decide the winner on the basis of better run rate. I feel runs scored and wickets lost both have to be taken into account. I would love to suggest the same point to the technical committee chairman Sunil Gavaskar if I attend the captains' meeting before the start of the next season."

Interestingly, Mumbai nearly lost the semi-final against Saurashtra due to their ignorance about a similar rule. The BCCI's playing guidelines clearly state that the net run rate calculated from previous games will decide the winner in a knockout game in case the first innings is not completed. Mumbai did not know the run-rate rule and nearly lost the plot.

They batted for two days and were intent on carrying for the third before realising that in case Saurashtra did not finish their first innings, they would get through to the final based on their higher net run-rate in previous games. Mumbai declared on the third morning and bowled out Saurashtra on the final day to move to the final.

"I didn't know the rules till the second evening of the semifinal," said Jaffer. "I did not have a copy of the playing conditions till then." Interestingly, a Saurashtra player had told Cricinfo on the second evening that "Mumbai doesn't appear to know the rules and hope they continue batting on the third day".

A Mumbai-based coach offered an insight into how the times have changed for Mumbai. "Previously, Mumbai never needed to know all this. They had a fabulous team and were not bothered about leads and bonus points," he said. "Not any more. They can say the rules are not fair - it probably is not - but to say that you are confused and don't know the rules is neither here nor there. It's the captain and the coach's responsibility to find out the rules."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo