Vidarbha joined Mumbai and Karnataka, who have a rare distinction of winning both Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup two years in a row, following their victory over Rest of India in Nagpur on Saturday.
While Vidarbha’s win was a certainty even when Ganesh Satish (87) was dismissed with 11 runs required to reach the 280 target, what came as a surprise was the truce between home captain Faiz Fazal and RoI skipper Ajinkya Rahane to call off the match at that stage. Vidarbha, who had taken the first innings lead, were crowned the champions for the second successive time but it was incomprehensible to see as to why would they let go of an opportunity to post an outright win.
More importantly, should the on-field umpires have intervened and let the match reach its logical end because the BCCI playing conditions for multi-day games clearly don’t empower such an arrangement between the two teams.
According law 16.1.6, “On the final day, if both captains (the batsmen at the wicket may act for their captain) accept that there is no prospect of either side achieving a victory, they may agree to finish the match after (a) the time for the commencement of the last hour has been reached OR (b) there are a minimum of 15 overs to be bowled, whichever is later.
With the prospect of an outright result very much there, it didn't matter even if both the conditions were met and a BCCI umpire, on condition of anonymity, agreed, “I don't exactly know what transpired there but yes, I am a bit surprised that the match was called off despite the distinct possibility of one side winning the match. The umpires shouldn’t have allowed the match to be called off. It's not permitted if you strictly go by the rules.”
With the title confirmed, Fazal had little difficulty in accepting Rahane’s offer but the umpires could have stepped in and allowed the match to continue. Would Vidarbha have agreed to a draw in a similar scenario if it was a league game? It would have amounted to throwing away a match.