Vijay Hazare Trophy: Shreyas Iyer, Ambati Rayudu in spotlight

The extended monsoon in most parts of the country has resulted in a majority of teams entering the league stage — to be played from September 24 — undercooked.

Shreyas Iyer, having virtually sealed a place in India’s limited-overs squad, is back to lead Mumbai’s title defence.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

Ambati Rayudu is back in cricket gears after enjoying the World Cup with 3D glasses. Robin Uthappa has a new team. Shreyas Iyer, having virtually sealed a place in India’s limited-overs squad, is back to lead Mumbai’s title defence. Rishabh Pant will hope to regain some confidence before joining India’s Test squad. And the domestic teams’ roster will have an addition in Chandigarh, which will become the 38th team to be a part of the domestic cricket circus.

Still, with the little attention that has been given to it yet again, the Vijay Hazare Trophy — the inter-state one-day competition — hasn’t really created as much buzz as it should as it will roll out a hectic six-month season of domestic cricket starting Tuesday.

Ambati Rayudu.   -  FILE PHOTO/ THE HINDU ARCHIVES

 

If the last season was about the induction of nine additional teams and a convoluted format as a result, this season seems to be a case of botched-up preparation, perhaps due to the last stage of the administrative mess the BCCI finds itself in before the reforms are finally implemented.

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With no other option but to start the Vijay Hazare Trophy before the monsoon subsides, the BCCI struggled to find venues. Add to that, the late addition of Chandigarh as the newbie in the domestic cricket club, and the finalisation of fixtures was further delayed. As a result, by the time Jaipur, Vadodara, Bengaluru and Dehradun were confirmed as venues, the teams barely had time to get into the groove.

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019-20 full fixtures

As if it was not enough, the extended monsoon in most parts of the country has resulted in a majority of teams entering the league stage — to be played from September 24 to October 16 — undercooked. And the rain is likely to chase them in all four venues, at least in the first half of the tournament, which will again mean shortened games and abandonment.

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Despite the various challenges, the fact is that the cream of India’s white-ball cricketers — barring the top lot who will feature against South Africa in three Tests — will be keen to impress the national selectors and help their respective teams start the season on a positive note. Still, neither the BCCI nor any of the staging associations have really put in any effort to market the tournament. As a result, most matches — despite the presence of big names — may go unnoticed; a select few matches will be livestreamed by BCCI’s broadcasting partner.

For the young flock, the white-ball season of domestic cricket — with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy set to follow the Vijay Hazare Trophy — will be an opportunity to stake a claim for next year’s World Twenty20.