Round number 4 of the Ranji Trophy 2014 saw some high scoring draws in 5 matches decided on first innings lead. There were only 3 outright victories in this round. This raises the question if 4 days games have any impact on cricket. The bigger question is on the quality of pitches to produce results
In Group A, Bengal drew with Mumbai. Batting first Mumbai made 414 with a good contribution of 153 by Shreyas Iyer the new star. In reply Bengal was all out in the first innings for 210. Following on in the second innings Bengal made 129/0 on day 3. On the fourth day the match was cancelled due to bad light. All the other matches in Group A were drawn matches. The highlight being UP scoring 299 for 5 in first innings with Tanmay scoring 99 and J&K replied with 199 for8 with I. Chauhan scoring 103. RP singh took 4 wickets for 39 runs. The third match between Tamil Nadu and Railways was also low scoring (under 250) and Railways taking 3 points due to 23 runs lead on first innings. At Gwalior, Baroda scored 358 but could not bundle out MP in the second innings despite giving follow on. While Kolkata and Kanpur matches were spoilt due to bad weather, In other two the pitches did not favor bowlers
In Group B Delhi defeated Gujrat by an innings and 109 runs. Delhi won the toss and elected to bat, scored 425 for 6 declared. In reply Gujrat were bowled out twice for 155 and 166 respectively. This is a clear case of pitch playing devil’s role after the first innings of Delhi on day 2. At Lahli Orissa beat Haryana by 7 wickets. Haryana batted first and were bowled out for 127, in reply Orissa scored 239 for 9 declared. In Haryana’s second innings they were bowled out for 143 giving a paltry target of 41 which Orissa chased with 7 wickets in hand. The pitch at Lahli, Rohtak is suitable for bowlers where the batsmen struggle for scoring runs. At Rajkot Punjab smashed 659 for 7 declared with Yuvraj Singh scoring double ton. In reply Saurastra scored 559 runs indicating that the pitch was batsman paradise. The match between Vidharbha and Rajasthan also ended in a draw both teams coring around 250-300 runs in etc innings with Rajasthan not getting time to complete second innings.
In Group C all the matches were drawn. The match between HP and Assam gave an innings victory to HP as they scored over 500 runs in their first innings. Assam was bundled out cheaply in both innings. This is clearly showing a better performance by HP. The Jharkhand match Jharkhand scored over 300 runs in both the innings and Kerala also scored 383 in first innings, getting no time for Kerala their second innings. The match at Tripura (Goa & Triupra), the match at Hyderabad (Hyderabad vs. Services) were also a tame draw, as Services near 300 in both innings but Hyderabad scoring over 300 could not get chance for the second.
This shows that the most of pitches in India are prepared in favor of the batsmen. The pitch at Rajkot is an example of that where both of the teams are scoring huge number of runs in the first innings itself. There are also some pitches which crumble after day 2 as examples by Ferozshah Kotla in Delhi.
Results being decided based on pitch conditions it is high time that the BCCI pitch committee must ensure pitches to make sure that a good competition between bats and ball is visible. In the second round match between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh the Indore pitch helped both the bowlers and batsmen. The technique of the batsmen and the bowlers (Pace and spin) potential and patience must be tested. Good sporting pitches will improve the skills of bowlers and batsmen alike.
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