A stomach ailment has forced Dermot Reeve, the former England allrounder, to be replaced as Maharashtra's senior coach for the rest of the season. Reeve, who was unable to make it to New Delhi for Maharashtra's Ranji Trophy Group B tie against Delhi that ended on Tuesday, has been replaced by the former Maharashtra captain Surendra Bhave.

The team has slumped since Reeve took over from the Australian Shaun Williams ahead of the season. With two rounds to go in the league stage, Maharashtra are at the bottom of Group B. With eight points from six games, Maharashtra are in danger of being relegated to Group C. As a result, Reeve's tactics were being questioned not just by a section of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA), but also those on the Ranji circuit. Suresh Raina, the Uttar Pradesh captain, criticised Reeve's defensive tactics during UP's tie in Pune.

However, MCA president Ajay Shirke put the sacking theory to rest. "Dermot is unwell for a while. Since it has been clear that he will not be able to be with the squad all the time, we had to make a decision since it puts a lot of pressure on the captain," Shirke told ESPNcricinfo. "As a result, we have appointed Surendra Bhave as the coach. He will take us through the rest of the season."

Bhave, the former Maharashtra opening batsman, served as a national selector for four years till last September. He had been appointed chairman of Maharashtra's senior selection panel ahead of the 2011-12 season, thereby acquainting him with the players.

"It is unfortunate to lose Dermot's services but we are determined to make the most of the remaining two games. We will do everything we can to avoid relegation," Bhave said after a long practice session at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Friday, on the eve of Maharashtra's match against an in-form Baroda.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo