Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has promised a four-day break between Ranji Trophy matches after the third round and it has come as mighty relief for players and coaches who complained about the lack of rest between encounters over past few years.

“It’s a very crucial and much-needed decision. For the first three matches players are relatively fresh, so you can do with a three-day break. But from the fourth round, you require an extra off day which they have given,” said Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy-winning coach Sulakshan Kulkarni, while lauding decisions taken by the Anil Kumble-headed Technical Committee of the BCCI.

Last season, many teams found themselves going in for the toss barely hours after reaching their venues on the eve of their respective matches. The three-day break also took a toll on players, especially the bowlers who risked injuries thanks to the minimum recovery time at their disposal.

Almost all teams were unanimous in asking for sufficient rest days during the Captains and Coaches Conclave in Mumbai earlier this year. The four-day gap means that teams will also get an eight-day break in between the league.

Another decision taken by the BCCI is to hold all Ranji Trophy matches on weekends. “This is another good initiative. This may be done to boost the attendance for matches. By keeping it on weekends, there are very good chances of more people coming to watch as schools, colleges and several offices don’t operate on weekends,” Kulkarni said.

The BCCI also decided to hold knockout matches of the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Deodhar Trophy under lights. “This will negate the toss factor to a great extent. Earlier, half the battle was won by teams winning the toss. You opt to field after winning the toss and skittle out the opposition for around 100-120 runs. By afternoon, the wicket would get better and one could easily chase. With day-night matches, we can hope for an even contest,” noted Kulkarni.

However, the committee has left the choice of venues for the Ranji Trophy knock-out games to the Ground and Pitches Committee which would consult the Technical Committee. The knockout matches were played on a home and away basis in the previous season.

“These are very positive steps. There were serious discussions about these issues during the Captains and Coaches Conclave and the Technical Committee has tried to find practical solutions to most of the issues,” said Kulkarni.

Meanwhile, defending champions Mumbai, who won the Ranji Trophy for the 40th time, have been placed in Group ‘A’ along with Punjab (semi-finalists), Gujarat, Delhi, Karnataka (quarter-finalists), Orissa, Haryana, Vidarbha and Jharkhand (promoted from Group ‘C’).

(Mid-day)

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