Ranji Trophy: Ousted teams slam new format; board defends

The latest rule changes hasn’t gone down well with teams like Bengal and Punjab. Ousted from the group stage after finishing third, the Bengal team management was critical of the revamped qualification format.

A file picture of Punjab's Ranji Trophy match in progress. Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh has criticised the new qualification rule changes.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

The previous editions of the Ranji Trophy saw three teams each from groups A and B qualify for the quarterfinals, while two teams qualified from group C.

However this year, with some rule changes, five teams were to qualify for the knock-outs from the first two groups (A and B), as per the points, while two from group C and one from group D (plate) joining them.

After the last leg of the group stage, which ended on Thursday, Vidarbha (29 points), Saurashtra (29), Karnataka (27), Gujarat (26) qualified from group A, while Kerala (26) with more outright wins (four) than Baroda (26 points, 3 wins) qualified from group B.

Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have qualified from Group C and Uttarakhand from Group D.

However, the latest rule changes hasn’t gone down well with teams like Bengal and Punjab. Ousted from the group stage after finishing third, the Bengal and Punjab team managements were critical of the revamped qualification format.

Related: Nagpur, Lucknow, Wayanad, Bengaluru to host Ranji quarterfinals

“I’ve talked to a lot of senior players. I think six teams should qualify for group A and B. Maybe they can consider from next season. They can bring two teams from group C. It’s a tough pool and five teams to qualify makes the task all the more difficult. I seriously believe A and B are very tough groups and six teams should qualify,” Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh said, after the final league game.

However, the BCCI General Manager, Cricket Operations, Syed Saba Karim defended the format. “Teams will have their own views but this format was explained to the teams at the beginning of the season. This is perhaps for the first time when on the last day, 12 teams were in the fray to qualify for the five slots. You saw very aggressive mindset from all the teams,” Karim told Sportstar.

“Most of the teams played with a positive mindset, which is healthy for domestic cricket. There are bound to be reactions from teams which have not qualified, but that’s okay,” the former India wicketkeeper-batsman said.

Karim also clarified that the Board will ‘take a stock of the situation’ once the season is over.

“It is our endeavour to make domestic cricket extremely challenging so that it throws up exciting talents who will do justice to the nation later,” Karim said.