With the entire national selection panel except for chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth set to reach Amritsar to take a close look at the Duleep Trophy game between Central Zone and East Zone, the teams will have a lot to play for.
With the new knockout format, players who have toiled hard in the domestic circuit just have one game to prove their worth. Although the current players shy away from speaking about this, a few former players do agree that Duleep Trophy should be played in a league format. Former India skipper Bishen Singh Bedi, said: “Duleep trophy needs to be played in a league format. With the knockout format in place, one doesn’t have much opportunity to have a close look at the players.”
Speaking on the timing, Bedi said: “I feel that the timing of this tournament this season is not correct. The tournament must be conducted at a time when the entire national talent is there so that the selectors can have a close look at all.”
Ravneet Ricky, former Punjab opener, who played a dozen Duleep Trophy games, said: “If the league format is followed, then a player can relax and play up to potential. With the knockout format, a player can be under pressure thinking that he just has one game.”
Criticising the knockout format, former India opener Navjot Singh Sidhu said: “We can’t judge cricketers by giving them just one game. One can have a bad day. Good players are judged when they are good over a period of time and not just one game.”
However, Punjab skipper Pankaj Dharmani supported the format. “In this format, a player will come fighting and give his best knowing that he has just one game.”
Coming to the game, Central Zone are a balanced and strong side. With batsmen like Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina and bowlers like RP Singh, Piyush Chawla, Pankaj Singh, they look well balanced. Coach Abhay Sharma said: “East Zone is a young side but our team is very balanced and we hope to have a good outing here.”
Showing confidence in his team, East Zone skipper Saurabh Tiwary, said: “We have a good side and with Ashok Dinda and Ranadeb Bose in the squad, the pace attack is good. The batting is also decent enough.” The weather in Amritsar has been heavy for the past few days and if it remains, pacers might get early purchase from the wicket. With a little bit of grass, the wicket is likely to settle down after lunch and also offer some turn in the later stages.