Hazy rule puzzles teams

Cricket: Ranji Trophy: It wouldve been nice if thered been some clarity early on: Dravid

Hazy rule puzzles teams


Sweating it out: Karnataka’s Sunil Joshi (left), Manish Pandey, Amit Verma  and skipper Rahul Dravid at a practice session in Mysore on Tuesday. DH photoIt was a move designed to lend added meaning to the 12 teams in the second tier. Instead of merely trying to quality for the following year’s Ranji Trophy, they actually had a shot at the title the same year.

So far so good. Why the BCCI is determined to reward last year’s performance when the idea should have been to recognise current form, however, defies logic.

Sample this. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka respectively topped Super Leagues Group A and Group B this season. Tamil Nadu finished with 26 points, well clear of Punjab (19) and defending champions Mumbai (19), while Karnataka ended up with an impressive tally of 28 points from six matches, miles ahead of last year’s beaten finalists Uttar Pradesh (18) and Delhi (16).

Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, therefore, ought to have been drawn to play the two qualifiers from the Plate division in the knockout quarterfinals beginning on Thursday, like last year when Plate teams first made the knockout quarters. After all, they had surged to the top of their respective groups; instead, the table-topper status was conferred on Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh merely because they were last season’s finalists. In itself, this is not a new move. In the past, and particularly when the zonal system was in effect, this system was in vogue. In the current changed circumstances, with the zonal system having been given the go-by and a slot created for Plate qualifiers, why this archaic rule should continue to prevail is anybody’s guess.

What took everyone, including the teams concerned, by surprise was that there was no clarity on the subject until the final day of league action, last Friday. Mumbai and UP had reconciled themselves to playing stronger Super League opponents in the last eight even as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu eyed potentially easier quarterfinals against Plate teams, when the BCCI announced the quarterfinal line-up pitting Mumbai and UP against Plate outfits.

“If those are the rules, those are the rules,” Karnataka captain Rahul Dravid told Deccan Herald.

“Personally, it doesn’t make a difference because I feel if you are to be crowned champions, you should be good enough to beat any side.

“Having said that, it would have been nice to be rewarded for current form but most importantly, it would have been nice too if there had been some clarity earlier on in the season. I am not sure if any of the teams was aware of this rule. A rule is a rule, but it should have made clear at the start of the season. As it turned out, no one knew till almost the very end who was going to be playing whom.”

Tamil Nadu coach WV Raman held a similar view. “This was the norm earlier too, during the zonal system, when the previous year’s finalists became group toppers,” the former India opener observed. “But there have been a lot of changes in rules over the years. I personally am of the opinion that you should have rewarded current form.”

Raman, though, was quick to point out that this last-minute uncertainty wasn’t new. “Even last year, there was a lot of suspense about who will play whom in the quarters till well into the season. This year as well, we got to know on the last day of the league phase who our opponents would be,” he said.

The damage might have been done so far as this year is concerned but the BCCI’s technical committee would do well to consider if it must give weightage to past performances or to present form.

Quarterfinal line-up: Karnataka vs Punjab, Tamil Nadu vs Delhi, Mumbai vs Haryana (Plate qualifier), Uttar Pradesh vs Assam (Plate qualifier).

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