Ranji Trophy: Patiala pitch in focus ahead of Bengal, Punjab clash

Punjab left-arm orthodox bowler Vinay Choudhary and Krishan Alang shared five wickets as Andhra was shot out for 97 after winning the toss in Patiala last week.

Punjab left-arm orthodox bowler Vinay Choudhary (in picture) and Krishan Alang shared five wickets against Andhra.   -  FILE PHOTO/ PTI

 

Spinners called the shots in the last Elite Group A clash between Andhra Pradesh and Punjab at the Dhruv Pandove Stadium in Patiala, which saw as many as 24 wickets fall on the first day: the most in a day in a Ranji match in last four seasons.

Sportstar has learnt that Andhra had filed an official complaint over the pitch.

The first ever Ranji match between Madras and Mysore in Chennai was over on the first day itself with 30 wickets falling in the day. In recent times, more than 24 wickets (28) have fallen in a day only on two occasions — in 2011/12 & 2012/13.

No surprise that the Patiala pitch will be in focus as the race for quarterfinals heats up. "It was a horribly under-prepared wicket where the ball was turning from day one. The surface is not suitable for a four-day Ranji Trophy match. That's why 24 wickets fell in a day," said a player associated with the match, on condition of anonymity.

"This is not to say we shouldn't prepare sporting pitches. But it wasn't an even battle between bat and ball [in Patiala]. It felt like a batsman could get out on every alternate ball. The spinners had an unfair advantage... there was nothing in it for the batsmen or for the fast bowlers... a pitch should last all four days, that's why they've neutral curators, right?" the player added.

However, this is not the first instance of a Ranji match getting over in less than four days. In recent times, Vidarbha ended Kerala’s run in the 2018-19 semfinal in Wayanad in under two days. Previously in the same season, Kerala vanquished Gujarat at the same venue in two-and-a-half days to enter the last four.

In 2016-17, seamers picked all 23 wickets to fall on the opening day of the Group A match between Baroda and Bengal in Lahli.

“This is probably the first time in recent years that a pitch has turned from day one. The Ranji match standards have increased lately; the Indian team's doing well because the domestic cricket is in the pink of health. Fast bowlers are coming up thanks to the grassy pitches. I'm not defending anyone, what has happened is wrong but it is an aberration more than anything else," said Daljit Singh, former BCCI chief curator.

Punjab left-arm orthodox bowler Vinay Choudhary and Krishan Alang shared five wickets as Andhra was shot out for 97 after winning the toss in Patiala last week. The innings lasted 39.4 overs.

Both Bengal and Punjab will keep a close eye on the pitch come match day.

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