Missteps galore in Vijay Hazare Trophy

Lack of reserve days for Vijay Hazare Trophy knockout rounds has drawn the ire of Punjab after it lost to TN with inclement weather forcing a no-result.

A view of the Alur cricket ground, which hosted the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal between Tamil Nadu and Punjab.   -  SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

After being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy by Tamil Nadu under cruel circumstances, the Punjab team didn’t emerge from its Alur (1) ground dressing room for a good hour. It was not known what was said, but it surely couldn’t have been a happy room.

When skipper Mandeep Singh made his way out to address the media, he expressed his disappointment. His side was undone by an "illogical rule", which counted the number of group-stage wins to decide the qualifier in the event of a washout.

The two sides didn’t even play equal number of matches. Even if Punjab had won all eight of its group games, it would have still been booted out as Tamil Nadu had secured nine wins from as many outings.

Read: Tare calls for ‘reserve days’ for Vijay Hazare Trophy knockouts

Punjab’s second grouse was that it had secured a spot in the elite Group ‘B’ on the basis of its fine performance in the previous edition but was now being punished for it. The opponent, Tamil Nadu, sitting in the lower Group ‘C’ based on lesser past performance, was rewarded instead.

As Mandeep explained, if the Karnataka-Pondicherry quarterfinal outing, held a day earlier, had been washed out, it would have been Pondicherry — topper of the Plate Group — that would have progressed at the expense of Karnataka (on better net run-rate as both teams had seven wins each). He didn’t have to explain that this would have been a travesty.

Curiously, none of the knockout games have reserve days. Mandeep emphasised that reserve days were a must, a call that was backed by scathing posts on Twitter by his Punjab team-mates and India stalwarts Yuvraj Singh and Harbahajan Singh.

Meanwhile Mumbai, which lost out to Chhattisgarh in the other quarterfinal, wasn’t done in by such dodgy rules, but it can have a legitimate complaint about the scheduling. Of its eight matches, it had to play seven at Alur and Just Cricket Ground, both situated in areas prone to flooding. And Mumbai duly saw two of its matches washed off, thus denying it an opportunity to notch up more wins, a criteria on which Chhattisgarh went through.

On the other hand, host Karnataka played five of its eight matches at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, which has the best drainage facility in the whole country. Even if a case is made for a big team to play a bulk of its matches at the main venue, Mumbai is no less a domestic heavyweight than Karnataka and was also the defending Vijay Hazare champion.

Apart from Karnataka, only Kerala got to play more than one match at the Chinnaswamy. In fact, when the fixtures were initially announced, Mumbai was scheduled to play two games there. After the opening two rounds in Bengaluru were washed out, the Mumbai Cricket Association even requested the BCCI to allot matches at Chinnaswamy more equitably. When the revised fixtures came out, Mumbai saw the match count reduced from two to one.

When contacted on Monday, BCCI General Manager Saba Karim, said they would welcome players’ feedback. The BCCI will now have a lot to chew.