Duleep Trophy Semis

So, South Zone prevailed over Central Zone in the Duleep opening game. A cats’ whisker separated the two teams in terms of the recorded result: South won on the basis of a 3-run 1st Innings lead! However, the result and the manner in which it was contrived was, in my view, a shocker that ought to send a clear signal to the people that run the game in India — notwithstanding the fact that I used the word “run” in a loose manner in that sentence!

The result was handed to South Zone when Central’s last bat, Umesh Yadav, went for a huge second-ball slog off L. Balaji with Central just 3 runs behind. Murali Kartik, who was at the non-strikers’ end (on 23 off 32 balls) would have reason to be cheesed off with Umesh Yadav who probably redeemed himself by being the best bowler on view from either side in the first innings. Yadav had a 5-fer that included the wickets of Dravid and Laxman.

South Zone went ahead to the next round on the basis of the slender 3-run 1st Innings lead that it secured. Thereby, players like Robin Uthappa, S. Badrinath, Dinesh Kartik, L. Balaji, Abhinav Mukund, and Sreesanth lived to fight another day!

Fair enough.

However, what was galling was that the captains of South and Central agreed to settle for a draw after the fall of Central’s 9th wicket — that of Mohammed Kaif — even though there were nine overs to go! Chasing 381 in 77 overs was always going to be tough. But Central made an attempt. However, with the fall of the 9th wicket and with 9 overs left in the days’ play, it was thoroughly disappointing to see South’s captain not press for an outright win!

Surely there is something wrong in the “system” right there! We can blame the rot on the administrators — and we do — but surely, the players have to get into the winning habit too! Even though there are no carry-forward points I can’t imagine a let-us-settle-for-a-draw attitude percolating through the Australian system or the South African domestic system, for example.

These little things do matter. Winning is a habit.

Players like Badrinath get another chance to press their case. Dinesh Kartik made a compelling case for the 2nd ‘keeper slot with two impressive centuries in the match.

The action moves to Mumbai and Rajkot now

  • 1st Semi-Final: East Zone v West Zone @ Mumbai – Jan 29-Feb 1, 2009
  • 2nd Semi-Final: North Zone v South Zone at Rajkot – Jan 29-Feb 1, 2009

The teams:

East Zone Team:
Shiv Sunder Das (capt), Manoj Tiwary, Rashmi Parida, Wriddhiman Saha, Haladhar Das (wk), Ashok Dinda, Ranadeb Bose, Dibyendu Chakrabarty, Niranjan Behera, Basanth Mohanty, Anand Katti, Krishna Das, Saurabh Tiwary, Tushar Saha, Jayanta Debnath.

West Zone (in possible batting order):
Wasim Jaffer (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kedar Jadhav, Bhavik Thakkar, Abhishek Nayar, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sidharth Trivedi.
Subs: Ajay Shrikhande, Samad Fallah, Azharuddin Bilakhia and Ajitesh Argal.

South Zone (in possible batting order):
Abhinav Mukund, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman (captain), S. Badrinath (vice-captain), Arjun Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R. Ashwin, M. Suresh, L. Balaji, S. Sreeshanth.
Subs: Suarav Bandekar, M. Vinay Kumar, S. Anoop Pai

Interstingly, Wriddhiman Saha is included as a batsman in the East side with Haladhar Das anointed as the ‘keeper! And that warhorse, Debashis Mohanty is not in the East Zone squad even though he ended the season as East’s leading wicket taker. I have not seen the North Zone team list anywhere yet.

— Mohan

15 responses to “Duleep Trophy Semis

  1. Srikanth Mangalam

    Mohan, out of curiosity, do you know who captained SZ in the absence of VVS in the second innings?

  2. The original team announcement had Badrinath as the vice-captain. So I am assuming that it was Badri.

  3. Dinesh Karthik was the stand in captain. He made mockery of the rules much like Ian Botham (who some years ago played a last over maiden eventhough his team required only a couple of runs to win. His team had already won on better run rate)

  4. Not sure what the big deal is. The match was all over bar the shouting. Do you think Kaif might have requested Karthik/Badri et al to close so that it looks as a draw? I mean if Kaif wanted to go home(he obviously did), even if SZ didn’t agree to leave the field, he could have persuaded Umesh Yadav to get out soon.(Obviously Yadav didn’t need any persuasion even in the first innings). So basically this was a gentleman’s agreement between Kaif & Karthik/Badri and I actually find it quite sporting.

    I mean if the match was not to be decided on first innings points, I’m sure SZ would have gone for it.

    There’s an unwritten rule in the American professional sports: when the outcome has been decided, you don’t rub it in/or show up the opponent. Here CZ was very close to the first innings lead and it may have been a gesture by the SZ captain, saying “well played” couched in the form accepting to close the match.

  5. @Ananth:

    Don’t agree. For a few reasons. In India the “1st Innings lead” workaround in domestic cricket leads to a laziness and mediocrity that beggars belief. The fact that this laziness spilled over to the highest level in domestic cricket in India is somewhat appalling. Moreover, for the same reason that Paula Radcliff got butchered by the British sports media for pulling out of a 10k race at the Olympics because she felt there was no way that she would win, the CZ and SZ (stand-in) captains ought to be smacked around the head by the BCCI. Moreover, if Kaif was that interested in getting home, why show up in the first place? If the result was all there was to it, teams like Jharkand, Vidharba and Goa may as well not rock up for the Ranji Trophy! Who knows what may have happened had they carried on for a bit longer?

    There is an unwritten rule in Australian professional sports. When you have the foot on the pedal, keep it there. There is always ample time for hand-shakes and beers at the end of the days’ play.

  6. Curious about Arjun Yadav. How did a total of 306 runs, at an average of 34 and a first class average of less than 30 get him a place in the zonal team?

  7. Mohan: I think we’re comparing apples to oranges. Note that Kaif didn’t want to close it till he got out; obviously he was hoping to bat it out, but when he got out, the mutual closure happened.

    This is not like Goa/Jharkhand not showing up or anything.

    This was a closely contested game which basically turned on the first innings lead(effectively the match was over then).
    What’s wrong in letting the opposition leave with a little dignity? After all Kaif did bat for almost a whole day and I find nothing wrong with it.

    Obviously you don’t think that way, but I feel in this case it was completely acceptable & the point I was making was that it won’t make these guys any less of a winners or lose the winning habit.

    There’s nothing wrong with keeping the foot on the pedal, but that applies only if you’re ahead and if you HAVE NOT SEWN UP A WIN…

    In this case, the “victory” wasn’t in doubt although the scoreboard would classify it as a draw, which is why I think we’re barking at the wrong tree.

  8. @Ananth

    Are ok with Paula Radcliff (in that example) quitting the 10k race midway because there was no way she could win? Would you be ok with the Indian hockey team (say) walking out of a hockey match with 10 mins to go in the Olympics finals with India being 1-7 down against Australia?

  9. Mohan:

    Yes, I find dead rubbers abhorring. If the Indian team was down 1-7 with 10 mins to go, seriously what point does it serve to play? If there was a provision for quick closure in the rules, you don’t that would be offered or accepted? Isn’t there a concept of a “white flag” in “real battles”? Don’t chess players resign without getting into mate? Why don’t tennis players play all 5 sets of a best of 5? More of than not, the spectacle of sport is lost at this point to the spectator(unless he is the rabid home fan wanting to see the last nail in the coffin); most viewers switch channels when a result becomes a foregone conclusion. Why should the sham of “play for a result” continue?

    Radcliff’s case might be different(I think the case for an individual where there is no other counterparty involved); she might be obligated by proxy to finish the race for her country.

    For example, one rule change I’d like is for ODI captains to agree to close the match if the result is a foregone conclusion(for example, most recently SL walloped Pak by 230 odd runs), surely after Pak has gone down to say 50/7 or something and if they wave the white flag, shouldn’t that be accepted?

    In cases where it is pointless to continue, i think the best rule is to “have no rules”. If both parties on the field agree, let them part way.

  10. Sport is about participation as well as winning. That’s the Olympic spirit. If it was only about winning, Jharkand need not bother fielding a team in the Ranjis. Radcliff erred, not because of false proxies and obligations, but because she insulted the fans that were there to watch sports people do battle. Sport is as much entertainment these days as it is about winning and losing. The spectator knows the rules in a tennis game in which 3-0 in a 5-set match implies that the game is over. This is precisely why (I suspect) the tennis fan barracks for the underdog. The spectator wants more. However, things were different in the Duleep Trophy game. Going for a win (rather than a technical win) must rank higher.

  11. I have no clue about the Radcliff case so am not going further on that….

    I’m not implying that winning is unimportant, all I’m saying that putting up an academic win(it has no other meaning really in this case) is unimportant and the rules should allow sufficient flexibility to foreclose any sporting event.

    Let’s just agree to disagree….

  12. And looking at Radcliffe’s wikipedia page(i’m not claiming this to be authoritative), it just appears she was unable to go on. Based on this, I’m not sure I buy the media criticism that she should finish her race. Isn’t she human? Should she die yet finish the race in the ‘Olympic spirit’ if she can’t go on?

  13. She could not go on in a few marathons she took part in (including Athens). In the Athens 10k she pulled out initially because she said there was no way she could have won it. Later there were backflips — as there would inevitably be in a PR-managed world we live in.

  14. We find that most teams are reluctant to play it hard once they obtain the first innigs lead. It is time to change the rules for both Ranji and Duleep trophies to avoid this attitude. Fixed over innings may be one solution, perhaps.
    In any case calling off the game by SZ was very surprising indeed.

  15. Why did he go for a slog man. Doesnt he have any brains. He just had to score 3 runs man

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