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When First is not First

by Mahek

The Ranji Trophy is about to enter the knockout stages and it seems the organisers need a lesson in how to make the draw. Picture this: Tamil Nadu and Karnataka topped their groups by a margin of 7 and 10 points respectively. Yet, they were not the top two ranked teams for the quarterfinal stage. That luxury was extended to last year's finalists - Mumbai and U.P. Mumbai finished third in their group while U.P were second behind Karnataka.

Apparently this is how things were back in the day. However, the Ranji Trophy switched to a new format last season with the top three teams from the Super League making the quarterfinals alongwith the winners of the semi-finals from the Plate League. The Super League group winners played the qualifiers from the Plate League while the second placed teams played the third placed winners. Sounds like a straightforward way of doing things. So what was the need for reverting to the old system which made no sense in the first place. More importantly, why weren't the teams aware of this at the start of the season? Why did W.V.Raman and the media have to wait till the eleventh hour for confirmation of the same?

The points system in the Ranji Trophy is bad enough as it is. There is too much emphasis on getting the first innings lead and not enough incentive for winning games outright - 30 of the 49 matches in the Super League  were drawn. To add to this, teams like Karnataka that do manage to win games have to play the second placed team from the other pool. So where is the incentive to play positive and aggressive cricket? The best thing to do is somehow make the finals one season, meander your way to a third place next year and face a qualifier from the Plate League.

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