Karnataka to play at Chinnaswamy

Contrary to popular wisdom that Ranji Trophy knockout matches would be held at neutral venues, three of the quarterfinalists will be playing their matches at their home ground.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India while releasing the quarterfinal fixtures to be held from January 8-12, announced that Karnataka, Mumbai and Bengal would play their matches at Chinnaswamy, Wankhede and Eden Gardens respectively.

“It was never going to be a neutral-venue alone policy,” Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s General Manager (game development), told Deccan Herald.  “When it was suggested (at the last Captains and Coaches conclave with the technical committee) by many that knockout matches should be held at neutral venues, it was shot down. Instead, the committee proposed to identify 10 venues which would host the matches.

“Accordingly the technical committee, headed by chairman Anil Kumble, accepted the venues listed by the Ground and Pitches panel. Since three out of four quarterfinalists have home venues, we didn’t have to do too much of manoeuvring,” Shetty remarked.
It may be recalled that the BCCI had decided to reward ‘good’ Ranji Trophy venues by awarding them knockout matches while ensuring that home curators had little role in preparation of the pitches.

While Karnataka take on Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai will clash with Maharashtra. Bengal, who made a last-minute cut, meet Group B topper Railways while Punjab, who have drawn first-time qualifiers Jammu & Kashmir, will play at Vadodara’s Moti Baug as neither team’s home venue has been identified to host the quarterfinals.

Shetty also clarified why Karnataka, despite topping the Group A’, are playing a formidable Uttar Pradesh while Punjab and Mumbai, who finished second and third, are drawn to play Group C qualifiers Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra respectively.

  “It’s according to the seedings alloted based on the performance of the previous year,” pointed out Shetty. “Mumbai being the defending champions were seeded number one while Saurashtra, the losing finalists, were number two. Punjab and Services, the losing semifinalists, were the other seeded teams.

“According to the rankings, Mumbai were drawn to play Maharashtra while Punjab got J & K. Since Services and Saurashtra had not qualified, we had a draw for the remaining four teams to decide the seedings for them. In the draw, Railways were fourth and Karnataka five. Accordingly, they have drawn their respective opponents,” he explained.

But the question remains as to how fair is it to a team, Karnataka in this case, that has accrued maximum points with more wins than any other team across all three groups? It makes little sense to reward teams for their past performances and the irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone as Saurashtra and Services, the seeded teams, didn’t even make it to the quarters to reap the benefit!

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