BCCI avoids clash of Ranji knockouts with international matches

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) last revised itinerary of the Ranji Trophy knockout matches, should give even the body's critics a reason to compliment it for ensuring that the Ranji Trophy knockouts do not clash with India’s international fixtures. Thus, this move presents an opportunity for all the top players to figure in the business end of the premier domestic tournament.

Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar has said that it’s a win-win situation for everyone in Indian cricket.   -  P. K. AJITH KUMAR

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) last revised itinerary of the Ranji Trophy knockout matches, should give even the body's critics a reason to compliment it for ensuring that the Ranji Trophy knockouts do not clash with India’s international fixtures. Thus, this move presents an opportunity for all the top players to figure in the business end of the premier domestic tournament.

According to the itinerary that was unveiled at the start of the season, the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals were scheduled from December 17 and the semifinals from December 27, while the final was supposed to start on January 7 next year. This ensured that the top India players would be available for the semis and the final before the limited overs leg of the England team's visit began on January 15.

READ: >Sunil Gavaskar's view on the subject

However, with the BCCI deciding to reschedule Jharkhand’s league match against Odisha due to the death of the Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, the revised itinerary had the quarterfinals, semis and the final from December 24, January 3 and January 12, respectively.

The BCCI eventually managed to squeeze the gap between the rounds and rescheduled the three rounds from December 24, January 1 and January 10 to ensure that the international regulars could play the Ranji final, if required.

Sportstar understands that the move has been mooted repeatedly by the India 'A' coach Rahul Dravid. The former India captain is understood to have been pitching for this move considering the non-availability of India players for Ranji Trophy in the recent past.

The state teams are obviously elated with the BCCI’s gesture. “If you go through history, a lot of top-class cricketers have always made themselves available for domestic cricket. For the last few years, the schedule hasn’t really permitted that to happen, but I think the BCCI has taken a fantastic step by ensuring that,” Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit told Sportstar on Monday.

“It is going to help Indian cricket develop more and more players. Since the Ranji Trophy is the feeder system for international cricket, participation of top players is definitely going to raise the quality of the game. Looking at them, the young players are going to be motivated as well as tested,” Pandit said.

From the squad that featured against England in the Test series, seven players will thus be featuring in the quarterfinals from December 24. R. Ashwin and M. Vijay will turn out for Tamil Nadu versus Karnataka, which will be boosted by the presence of K. L. Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey. Parthiv Patel will return to lead Gujarat against Odisha while Amit Mishra will turn out for Haryana against Jharkhand. Whereas Ajinkya Rahane will definitely miss Mumbai’s clash against Hyderabad, it remains to be seen if Jayant Yadav joins Mishra in the Haryana team.

Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar said it’s a win-win situation for everyone in Indian cricket. “It’s a kind of a boon for domestic cricket. All the cricketers who graduate to international cricket take immense pride in wearing their state team’s cap, so it’s a welcome gesture on the BCCI’s part to ensure the players contribute to their alma-mater when it matters the most,” Kanitkar said from Visakhapatnam. “Also, it will bring greater relevance to the domestic cricket circuit. It'll be great if this continues in the years to come."