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A rule without a rhyme or reason

india Updated: Nov 30, 2010 14:27 IST
Aakash Chopra

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh fought an intense battle for over three days and nearly 300 overs. Yet, both teams walked away empty handed from the match, thanks to a mysterious rule.

The rulebook says if more than 90 overs are lost, teams share one point each in case both the teams fail to complete their first innings. Fair enough, but if less than 90 overs are lost and the first innings is not completed, teams get nothing.

In this match, despite losing almost a full day to rain, 90 overs weren't lost in the course of four days. The lost time was somewhat made up by extending the post lunch session by half an hour, and then by continuing playing until light permitted. While it was laudable to get the maximum overs in, the effort, however, boomeranged. As the teams managed to keep the loss of overs to less than 90, they had to walk away with zero points from the game instead of one point each. Perhaps, losing more than 90 overs would have been a better deal. It's perplexing, to say the least, that team gets a point for even conceding the lead, but not in this case. Against Rajasthan, Hyderabad was blown away for 21 runs in the first innings, and quite justifiably got no points from that match. One can penalize a team for playing poorly, but can't punish it for not yielding any ground to opposition.

This rule could lead to a classic situation where teams could throw away the matches. If, for instance, both teams have equal points and either of them need a point to either get promotion or escape relegation, it would be worth allowing the opposition to either overhaul the total, or throw away wickets to concede the first innings lead. This would ensure the team will get at least one point. Clearly, there is a flaw in this rule.

One might argue that since both teams didn't get a point, no body lost out. But it allowed Hyderabad to jump to third place and sit along with Rajasthan and MP. A point for each team would have steered them clear of the rest. For now though, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have to pay for the absurdity of certain rules.