Bengal and Gujarat are in contention for a quarter-final berth © PTI
Mumbai Cricket Association and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association have opposed BCCI’s decision to reschedule two postponed Delhi fixtures (due to pollution and smog) to after the completion of the ninth and final round of matches in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season.
The Group A clash between Gujarat and Bengal and the Group C fixture between Hyderabad and Tripura will now be played four days after the completion of the final round, from December 15 to 18, in Visakhapatnam and Kolkata respectively.
The MCA has already lodged an official protest against the rescheduling of the Group A clash, and the TNCA is expected to follow suit on Monday. Mumbai are currently group toppers with 26 points, while Gujarat, with 21 points, are two points behind second-placed Tamil Nadu.
While Tamil Nadu and Mumbai only have one and two games respectively, Gujarat have three by virtue of the rescheduling. According to Indian Express, MCA joint-secretary Unmesh Khanvilkar had stated in his letter to the BCCI the rescheduling was unfair to the other teams.
“The rescheduling of the said match after the completion of all matches gives unfair advantage to the participating teams with respect to their qualification the knockout phase,” Khanvilkar wrote. “This would be unfair for the rest of the teams who would have finished all the matches by then.”
TNCA secretary Kasi Viswanathan said the matches in question shouldn’t be rescheduled, and that the points should be shared retrospectively. “In a league stage you cannot do this; it will be a disadvantage to the other teams. It is an act of God, and you should have only shared points,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “Last year we lost almost four days due to rain against Gujarat; so many matches have been affected by fog, nothing was done then.
“We are saying the matches should not be rescheduled and that points should be shared like in any match that is washed out. We have orally conveyed [our displeasure] to the BCCI. We will have a meeting with our president and office bearers, and then we will file an official protest tomorrow mostly.”
Viswanathan said they should have waited till the fourth day before calling the games off in Delhi. “After all, only two days of play had elapsed; they could have still completed the game on the third and the fourth day,” he said. “It has happened in so many games in the past; it is not something new.”
He also contended the technical committee wasn’t empowered to reschedule the games. “The BCCI press release says that the two matches were called off by the technical committee,” he said. “I would like to point out that the technical committee has no jurisdiction over it. Only the senior tournament committee has the powers to decide this.”
In Group C, the top-three teams are separated by only three points. While table-topper Andhra and third-placed Haryana have two more matches remaining, Hyderabad, who trail Andhra by only two points, have an extra game against Tripura, who are in the bottom half. Andhra coach Sanath Kumar admitted Hyderabad would have the advantage of knowing what they need to do in the last match, but said there was no point worrying about it.
“All we have to do is our two games we have to focus and have to do our best. If we win one of the games and take the first-innings lead in the other we are anyway through,” he said. “These things we can’t do anything about. It is not intentionally done or something like that. Definitely it is an advantage, but you can’t avoid it; you can’t do anything else.”
The BCCI had also pushed back the knockout matches to accommodate the two games. The quarter-finals, initially scheduled to begin on December 17, will now be held from December 24 to 28. The semi-finals were moved from December 27 to January 3, while the final, originally set to be played from January 7, will now take place from January 12 to 16.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun
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