The drawn match between Delhi and Assam in the first Ranji Trophy round in New Delhi on Monday ended in controversy over a slow last hour. Delhi fell 30 runs short of securing an outright win, and their coach KP Bhaskar pointed to bad light and Assam's alleged slow tactics as factors in the eventual result.
Delhi needed 79 in 14 overs, but were stranded on 49 for 2 with Assam bowling only eight overs in the last hour. Bhaskar has ruled out lodging a formal complaint, but admitted the opposition were astute in tackling the situation while remaining within the laws.
The official time for close of play on the fourth day was 4.15pm, with teams being given the half hour extension. The umpires allowed the game to continue till 5.30pm, until they felt the light had deteriorated. "Within the laws of the game, they were using delaying tactics. Where they should have bowled 14 overs, they ended up bowling seven (Assam bowled eight)," Bhaskar told ESPNcricinfo.
"They packed the off-side field and started bowling wide of the off stump. Even then, we managed 49 runs. We needed 30 more, which could have been easily scored. Unfortunately, bad light messed things up. But as I keep saying, what Assam did was within the laws and fair enough."
Under the BCCI's playing guidelines, fines can be levied on a team for an over-rate breach only if they bowl a minimum of 50 overs. Bhaskar said the decision to go off the field when they eventually did was correct, but felt Assam crossed a line by creating delays.
"There were still six overs to go and 30 runs to score," Bhaskar said of the moment when umpires decided to call off play. "Given the light, at the most the umpires would have allowed another two overs or so. But for bowling those six overs, the way they were doing it, they would have taken about half an hour. There were reasons like the bowler fell down, so he took about five-seven minutes there and then he limped outside the ground. Then after two overs, he came back again to bowl."
Lalchand Rajput, the Assam coach, deflected the blame on Delhi, suggesting they paid the price for failing to complete their overs on time in the second innings. "They were seven or eight overs short," Rajput said. "That automatically got carried over to us. Had they been quicker, we would have bowled earlier."
In hindsight, Bhaskar rued one critical error committed by Delhi in Assam's second innings. Wasiqur Rahman was reprieved on 0, courtesy a no-ball from Navdeep Saini. Wasiqur went on to face 168 balls to make 63, thereby spending close to three hours at the crease, which Bhaskar felt may have also cost them.
"My grudge is that we could have got them out earlier. Keeping all these factors in mind, we should have got the 10 wickets much before the last hour," he said. "Had we done that, we would probably have been in a better position and light wouldn't have been a factor. The no-ball wasn't very clear, so the benefit of the doubt went to the batsman. That was a blemish from our part.
"But I'm very happy with the way our bowlers bowled. They were excellent on such a good wicket; they really bowled their hearts out. We could have taken six points here, or maybe even seven, but tough luck."