Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Dangerous pitch sees two abandonments in Puducherry’s game

After two and half days of rain and two starts on adjoining strips, the Ranji Trophy Plate Group match between Puducherry and Uttarakhand had to be abandoned after both the pitches were deemed unfit by the match referee due to variable bounce.

File picture of the CAP Siechem Ground in Puducherry.   -  S. S. Kumar

After two and half days of rain and two starts on adjoining strips, the Ranji Trophy Plate Group match between Puducherry and Uttarakhand had to be abandoned after both the pitches were deemed unfit by the match referee due to variable bounce.

The first two days’ play was washed out due to rain and the match could start only on the third day. Put in to bat, barely 50 balls into the match, umpires Yeshwant Barde and M. Kuppuraj deemed the pitch unsafe for play with Uttarakhand openers Vineet Saxena and Karn Veer Kaushal struggling with variable bounce. It was then decided to switch to an adjoining wicket, and the BCCI rules meant a new toss had to be done.

Since the adjoining strip required to be worked on, the match resumed on Tuesday, the last day of the match. However, after Puducherry elected to bat, even the new pitches started acting funny and had similar issues with balls taking off dangerously. The home side batted for 15 overs with the score reading 23 for three when the match was finally called off.

As a result, while the BCCI has kicked off an investigation into the fiasco, the Cricket Association of Puducherry (CAP) has requested for its next match against Manipur, scheduled to start at the same venue from Sunday, to be shifted to an alternate venue.

“We have had matches at that ground before and had no issues. This issue was due to the rain and it seems to be a one-off event. The umpires and match referee felt there was a risk of injury for players,” Saba Karim, BCCI General Manager - Cricket Operations, told Sportstar. “We will wait for the neutral curator’s report before deciding on whether the next match will be held there. We have alternate venue ready in mind in case if it is not possible.”

While Puducherry is trying to play its next home game at a different venue in the Union Territory, a neutral venue, likely Anantapur is also a possibility.

The pitches for all Ranji games are monitored by the neutral curators in coordination with the local ground staff. According to a Cricket Association of Puducherry insider, the problem with the surface arose since the pitch was undercover for two and half days due to persistent rain.

The pitch at the CAP Siechem ground is completely clay-based and due to humid conditions, cracks had started to develop that precipitated the bad bounce.