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Disquiet in BCCI over relegation process in Vijay Hazare & Ranji Trophy

A combination of 5 teams will qualify from Elite A and B for the quarter-finals while the top 2 teams will qualify from Elite C. The Plate group will have one team coming into the quarter-finals.

cricket Updated: Sep 13, 2018 10:36 IST
Baidurjo Bhose
Baidurjo Bhose
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
bcci,sourav ganguly,saba karim
A logo of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.(Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Duleep Trophy might have sounded the start of the 2018-19 domestic season of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but the battle heats up with the Vijay Hazare Trophy — 50-over tournament — starting on September 19. But there is disquiet within the BCCI as the technical committee isn’t happy with the formatting of the Vijay Hazare and the Ranji Trophy. Their main cause of concern is the promotion and relegation process that has been put in place by the board this season.

This season, both the 50-over tournament and the Ranji Trophy will see a total of 37 teams fighting it out in three groups (Elite A, Elite B, Elite C and Plate). While Elite A and B have 9 teams each, Elite C has 10 teams. The Plate group has 9 teams. A combination of 5 teams will qualify from Elite A and B while the top 2 teams will qualify from Elite C. Plate will have one team coming into the quarter-finals.

Asked to explain the process of 5 teams qualifying from 2 different groups, GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim told Hindustan Times: ““Firstly, do not see Group A and Group B as different groups as that will confuse you on how one team can have three teams qualifying and one will have two. It is a clear case of the top 5 teams qualifying at the end of the group stages.”

Interestingly, the top team that qualifies from Plate group will be promoted to Elite C next season. Similarly, the top 2 teams from Elite C go into Elite A and B for the 2019-20 season. But when it comes to relegation, while the bottom-placed teams of Elite A and B go into Elite C, the bottom-placed team in Elite C goes into Plate Group for the next season. The members of the technical committee feel this is unfair.

A member of the technical committee — headed by former India skipper Sourav Ganguly — said that this format would create unnecessary confusion among the teams in groups A and B.

“How can you have a tournament where the player doesn’t know whether 2 teams or three teams will advance from his group? It is the Ranji Trophy and not the Kolkata League. Saba Karim had been clearly told at the meeting of the technical committee that the proposal was absurd as different divisions had been tried and done away with earlier. Is he even listening to himself? He says don’t think of them as two groups while he himself in the same sentence explains how they are two groups!” he told the Hindustan Times.

Another member of the committee said that the point-based promotion and relegation system would lead to disappointment. “It is a copybook illustration of comparing apples to oranges. For example, even if 3 teams of the third group get more points than the top teams of A and B groups, only two teams will progress from that group. This is patently unfair and unjust.

“The last team of group C will go to Plate even if it has more points than the last team of Group A or B. It just seems that whoever has made this format ignored the Ganguly-led technical committee completely,” he said.

Karim defends the process and says that weightage has also been given to the teams’ performance in the last season before drawing up the groups. “Also, when it comes to the division of teams into the various groups, last year’s performance has been kept in mind and that is how the groups have been drawn,” he said.

While Elite A has Goa, Maharashtra, Baroda, Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka, Vidarbha and Railways; Elite B consists of Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Andhra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad and Saurashtra. Bengal, Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam, Gujarat, Services, Tripura, Team Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and J&K form Elite C. The new teams have all been put into Plate.

Interestingly, Ganguly had made his displeasure clear when the domestic fixtures were announced. “I wasn’t consulted. (That) meeting had certain other decisions but I am happy to see north-eastern states included as we had suggested. I don’t agree with Elite and Plate groups since the selectors don’t give importance to Plate performances,” Ganguly had said.

First Published: Sep 13, 2018 10:13 IST