Sourav Ganguly, the chairman of BCCI's technical committee, has said his committee didn't make the decision to reschedule the two postponed Delhi fixtures. Ganguly's claims contradict those of the BCCI, which had suggested the technical committee had taken the decision.
"The Technical Committee of the BCCI recognised the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in Delhi and decided to reschedule the Ranji Trophy 2016-17 fifth round matches between Hyderabad-Tripura and Gujarat-Bengal after the first two days of play were lost due to smog conditions in New Delhi," the BCCI had stated in its press release dated November 6.
Ganguly, however, maintained the technical committee had little to do with the decision. "This was not decided by technical committee. This was put forward to the technical committee by BCCI," he told ESPNcricinfo. However, when pointed out the BCCI couldn't have made the decision had his committee not agreed to it, Ganguly said: "yes, true."
While ESPNcricinfo's attempts to contact BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke didn't yield a response, a board source said it was a collective decision to reschedule the matches and that due process was followed.
The decision to reschedule the fixtures meant the Group A clash between Gujarat and Bengal and the Group C game between Hyderabad and Tripura would now be played four days after the completion of the final round, from December 15 to 18, in Visakhapatnam and Kolkata respectively. This move led to protests from the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association against the "unfair advantage" extended to the teams playing in the rescheduled games.
TNCA secretary Kasi Viswanathan had said the matches in question shouldn't be rescheduled, and that the points should be shared retrospectively. "In a league stage you cannot do this; it will be a disadvantage to the other teams. It is an act of God, and you should have only shared points," he told ESPNcricinfo.
Ganguly, however, defended the decision and said it was made before the permutations for the knockouts came into the picture. "The decision was done then only, at the start of the season, which was two or three matches old," he said. "If you look at the start of the Ranji season there are some teams who started early, some teams who started late. I don't know how it gives them unfair advantage; you still have to win a cricket match. Gujarat, in any case, will qualify because they have beaten everyone."
Mumbai currently lead the standings in Group A with 26 points, while Gujarat, with 21 points, are two points behind second-placed Tamil Nadu. In Group C, the top-three teams are separated by only three points. While table-topper Andhra and third-placed Haryana have two more matches remaining, Hyderabad has an extra game against Tripura, who are in the bottom half.
The rescheduling of games has also forced BCCI to push back the knockout matches. The quarter-finals, initially scheduled to begin on December 17, will now be held from December 24 to 28. The semi-finals were moved from December 27 to January 3, while the final, originally set to be played from January 7, will now take place from January 12 to 16.