BCCI postpones Ranji Trophy due to rising COVID-19 cases

Along with Ranji Trophy, the Col C.K. Nayudu Trophy, Senior Women’s T20 League, has also been postponed.

Saurashtra won the last Ranji Trophy title in the 2019-20 season.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

The rising COVID-19 cases across the country has forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to postpone Ranji Trophy for the time being.

The decision was taken by the Board officials after a virtual meeting on Tuesday and the development was confirmed to Sportstar by BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly.

Along with the Ranji Trophy, the Col C.K. Nayudu Trophy, Senior Women’s T20 League, has also been postponed. The Ranji Trophy was scheduled to begin on January 13, while the Senior Women’s T20 League was scheduled to commence in February.

“BCCI does not want to compromise the safety of the players, support staff, match officials and other participants involved and hence, has decided to put the three tournaments on hold till further notice. The BCCI will continue to assess the situation and take a call on the start of the tournaments accordingly,” secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

“BCCI thanks and continues to appreciate the efforts of the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, match officials and all the service providers who put their best foot forward to host more than 700 matches across 11 tournaments in the current 2021-22 domestic season,” Shah said.

However, as of now, the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy knockouts, which are currently being played in Pune, is likely to continue as only a few matches are left and the players are already inside the bio-bubble. However, it needs to be seen how things pan out over the next couple of days.

On Monday, Ganguly was optimistic about hosting the tournament as per scheduled from January 13, but with major cities - Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru - reporting spurt of cases and several states announcing curbs, it was decided in the meeting that it would be ‘too risky’ to go ahead with the tournament for the time being.

The Board top brass also communicated with the state associations, which were to host the tournament, to take stock of the situation. “The decision was taken after considering all the factors. We will continue to monitor the situation,” a Board official said.

The Board had to cancel the Ranji Trophy last season due to COVID-19, but this time around, it was confident of conducting the tournament in a bio-secure environment. However, with the situation changing, the Board decided to wait and watch. “Several associations, too, have reported a surge in COVID cases. So, keeping that and the travel factors in mind, this was the best decision,” the source said.

The Mumbai team had already reached Kolkata to play a couple of practice games before entering the bubble. But now, it is expected that the team will return by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Board has decided to wait before taking a call on the home series against the West Indies, scheduled to be held next month.

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