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Ranji final hit by scheduling woes

Sachin Tendulkar's participation in any event means the profile of the match goes up a notch, but still one has been left to rue of what could have been. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports.

cricket Updated: Jan 25, 2013 00:06 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal

Sachin Tendulkar's participation in any event means the profile of the match goes up a notch, but still one has been left to rue of what could have been.

With a little adjustment, which wasn't really beyond the Indian Board, the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy final had so much scope to make it a grander event, for one could have witnessed an even bigger star cast.

As it stands now, more than who's playing, the lead-up to the game starting on Saturday, is dominated by the talk of the names missing from the fray.

Anytime an international fixture will have preference over a domestic game, but this case is slightly different. For here we are talking about the biggest game of the domestic season against an international game which has been rendered inconsequential.

Naturally, it's frustrating to digest that the cream of the two teams will be missing the action. When Saurashtra's doughty cricketers pit their might in search of their first crown against 39-time champions Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium, star players Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja (Saurashtra) and Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane will be in Dharamsala doing duty in the dead rubber against England.

"It would have been such a great final…" rued Saurashtra Cricket Association president and BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah. "The Ranji title clash is the biggest game in domestic cricket. It is the one, every association looks forward to; rest of the tournaments, like the zonal games, are all representative games," said Shah.

He observed that the overlap with the England ODI series should have been avoided. And, even then, there was a second chance where the Board could have managed a solution, that is, by waiting for the outcome of the 4th ODI before selecting the India team for the final game.

"The selection could have been done till the fourth game. As the series has been sealed, the Mumbai and Saurashtra players should have been released," said Shah. "They could have waited and picked three-four boys in their place."

Even Mumbai Cricket Association's honorary secretary, Nitin Dalal, felt the occasion could have been grander. "It would have been more fun had all the players been available. The national team comes first but the final ODI is not of much significance now," said Dalal.

BCCI secretary, Sanjay Jagdale, said: "We drew the schedule after considering everything. This season, the calendar has been very tight; everyone wanted more Ranji matches and we have given the teams more matches. Everyone can't have everything, Earlier, they used to get four to five games, this season we had eight."

About the criticism from the affected associations, he quipped: "Everyone is entitled to his opinion, I don't want to comment."

More important is the fact is that this game could have been an ideal preparation for the likes of Pujara, Jadeja and Rahane before the Test series against Australia. Now, they are left with only the Irani Trophy before the big series.