The 2020-21 Indian domestic season could be limited to just white-ball cricket as several state associations have told the BCCI that they prefer to play the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. A final decision is expected to be made by the BCCI soon after it seeks opinion from the states by December 2.
With the Indian domestic season failing to start on time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI sent out an email on Sunday, asking state associations to pick their preference from four options by Wednesday. The options included: only Ranji Trophy, only Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, both the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Ranji Trophy, or only the limited-overs tournaments – along with tentative dates for each, in the timeframe between December 20 and March 18.
ESPNcricnfo understands several states, including defending Ranij Trophy champions Saurashtra, domestic heavyweights Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, along with Baroda and Punjab, are all in favour of playing primarily the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare tournaments.
The outliers among those contacted by ESPNcricinfo are the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) and the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) along with the Andhra Cricket Association and the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA), who have chosen the option of playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy followed by the Ranji Trophy.
The BCCI had listed December 20-January 10 as the window for the domestic T20s. The Ranji Trophy would span 67 days starting January 11 through March 18. The Vijay Hazare Trophy has been proposed between January 11 and February 7.
The major concerns that the states have expressed are centered around preparation and team selection. While some states have gradually begun to restart operations, training camps, and local tournaments over the last few months, the majority of them will be forced into a hurried pre-season based on BCCI’s current proposed dates.
According to Shah the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy should also be conducted “group-wise” and preferably in the same zones to avoid travel hurdles amid the pandemic. Most states associations also pointed out that based on the conduct of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and the state of the pandemic in the country at the time, the BCCI could look at staging the Ranji Trophy thereafter.
Rohit Pandit, chief executive officer at the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, said that the central Indian state was “more or less okay” with the BCCI’s proposed dates. Given that cricket in the state has been ongoing since July, he pointed out that logistical challenges aside, the team should be ready.
In a press release, the KSCA said they were pushing for all kinds of cricket – men and women, across age groups – to resume to safeguard the welfare of those who are involved in the game. They are also understood to be willing to play hosts, with at least eight first-class standard grounds available in the state.
“We, KSCA, have suggested to the BCCI to conduct T20 and Ranji Trophy, and later Vijay Hazare Trophy,” the release said. “We have further suggested to conduct all tournaments for both men and women, for all age groups for the season 2020-21. We have further said, if need be, skip the Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy and Deodhar Trophy. We have said in case the activities are not held, then all the direct stakeholders including players, especially the age-group category cricketers, umpires, scorers, video analysts, coaches, support staff and others will stand to lose substantially on the cricketing front as well monetary front.”
Bengal, who finished runner-up in the Ranji Trophy last season, are in favour of playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Ranji Trophy. The Cricket Association of Bengal, which is currently headed by Avishek Dalmiya, has also expressed keenness to be one of the six bio-secure venues for the forthcoming domestic season.
A senior office bearer at Mumbai Cricket Association said that it was “it was a difficult ask which BCCI has to handle” and hence in its response the MCA had not put any conditions, including when the tournament should begin.
Incidentally, the MCA is yet to resume cricketing activities and Mumbai are currently without a selection committee as well as a head coach. VCA has also asked the BCCI to facilitate resumption of cricketing activity in Maharashtra in order for players to get ample time for preparation.
Some states like Tamil Nadu have already set the ball rolling and have called for a selection meeting later this week to pick a longlist of probables. Most states have asked the BCCI to make their decision soon and provide the tournament dates so that they can pick the teams accordingly. They have also sought details of the bio-secure hubs, where the teams would be based during a domestic tournament, and quarantine requirements.
Recent Match Report – Essex vs Sussex South Group 2021
Skipper slams 75 from 44 to help make short work of small chase
Sussex 130 for 3 (Wright 75) beat Essex 128 for 8 (Garton 3-31) by seven wickets
The Blast’s all-time leading run-scorer missed the opening two rounds after splitting the webbing in his hand while practising fielding on the eve of the competition. But he made up for lost time by bringing up his fifty in 33 deliveries as Sussex chased down Essex’s below-par 128 for eight with 36 balls to spare.
Wright looked at home right from the start, with boundaries from his second and third deliveries – two of eight fours.
Opening partner Phil Salt earned a life when he bludgeoned a full toss to mid-on, only to earn a reprieve for the umpire to judge the ball to have been above waist-height, much to Simon Harmer’s chagrin. Salt was run out for 13, after putting on 54 with Wright before Travis Head added 60 together with the skipper.
Wright continued to his 26th Blast half-century, going past 8000 T20 career runs, with a pair of straight sixes and another over cow corner. He departed with six still needed but Delray Rawlins clattered the winning runs over long-off soon after.
Wright’s day had started perfectly as he won the toss and stuck the hosts in – although Will Buttleman struck successive sixes in the fourth over. On a used hybrid pitch, scoring proved difficult for Essex with only Buttleman, Michael Pepper and Jimmy Neesham’s strike rates topping 100, for those who reached double figures.
The strain on scoring was exemplified by the last over of the Powerplay, which saw just one run, as Paul Walter struggled to lay a bat on Chris Jordan – the run rate throughout the innings hovering just below seven an over.
To add to the Eagles’ woes, wickets were a regular occurrence. Tom Westley and Buttleman fell in the Powerplay – the former picking out deep midwicket off George Garton and the latter slapping a Tymal Mills slower ball to cover.
Walter was stumped, Ryan ten Doeschate clubbed old pal Ravi Bopara to long off, Pepper – having scored 38 off 25 balls – drilled to extra cover, Harmer miscued to midwicket, Jack Plom skied to mid-off and Neesham was comprehensively bowled.
Garton ended up with 3 for 31, with Mills, Jordan and Bopara all going at under a run-a-ball.
Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Middlesex South Group 2021
Imposing Hampshire target overhauled with two balls to spare in outground thriller
Middlesex 217 for 7 (Cracknell 77, Simpson 62) beat Hampshire 215 for 6 (Short 48, McManus 47, Weatherley 41) by three wickets with two balls to spare
Middlesex pulled off their second highest T20 chase – by three wickets with two balls to spare – in a memorable match at Radlett which saw the next generation take charge of a county going through a difficult transition, and leave another ailing T20 side, Hampshire, fearing that they don’t seem to be in much of a transition at all.
Radlett is about as far away from the ECB’s vision of T20 cricket as it is possible to be. The dream is maximum revenue from large stadia, a football-style atmosphere and a sense of theatre that delights a TV audience. Start an overly loud, alcohol-fuelled chant at Radlett and you may be blackballed from the golf club or become the subject of gossip in the Ladies Circle.
Hampshire’s first 200-plus total for three years was eminently chaseable in perfect batting conditions. But patently not by Middlesex, most of their supporters would have suggested. At 30 for 3, with Morgan trudging off, having reached at a very wide one to hole out at deep backward point, a philosophical kind of pessimism had taken hold.
Radlett is an idyllic county ground: a good batting surface, a ground lined by trees and hedges, and a convivial crowd adopting a Country Show attitude to any minor privations in the marquees and the portable toilets. They were allowed not far short of 1,000 spectators which is roughly the same as some of the smaller county grounds, which have stands and things. All to do with pinch points apparently.
They were on the verge of a colossal Powerplay with 68 garnered from the first five overs and Vince and D’Arcy Short in a blissful world where they could do much as they pleased. With Middlesex lacking five pace bowlers because of injury or (in the case of Tom Helm) recovery from Covid-19, a colossal score looked on the cards.
Then came Cullen. Three off the first over; Vince’s head-high hook falling to deep backward square in his next. In his final over, he twice troubled Hampshire’s ex-Middlesex man, James Fuller, twice for pace, the first of them gloved to third man.
Cullen, a former England U19, has played for Middlesex since the U10s, and both player and club are beginning to reap the reward of years of endeavour. Pacey, with a strong action, he can reputedly swing the ball in four-day cricket, but here, he adapted intelligently and hit the pitch. The assessment of Middlesex’s director of cricket, Angus Fraser, that he “bowls like a grown man” could not have been more apparent.
Green’s night did not begin well. He averages below seven runs an over in a career spanning more than 70 matches, making him beloved of T20 aficionados, and he was also on the back of a five-for against Kent, with four wickets taken in the final over. He was Middlesex’s most expensive bowler, leaking 55 from four overs as his method of pushing it fast and wide across the right-hander brought no dividends.
Middlesex missed chances in the field, and a succession of shots escaped clawing fingers. The most damaging, in more than one sense, was Sowter’s drop of Dawson, running in from deep backward square, his right ankle sprained in the process. But not damaged enough for him to play a part in Middlesex’s uplifting victory.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Recent Match Report – Kings vs Zalmi 24th Match 2020/21-2021
Peshawar’s bowlers restricted Karachi Kings to their lowest ever PSL total before Zazai made short work of it
Peshawar Zalmi 109 for 4 (Hazratullah Zazai 63, Imad Wasim 2-2) beat Karachi Kings 108 for 9 (Abbas Afridi 27*, Abrar 3-14, Wahab 3-34, Gul 2-13) by six wickets
Only Islamabad United have gunned down a target quicker, and even their ten-over chase against Quetta Gladiators earlier this week looked like it would be eclipsed comfortably. In the end, three late wickets slowed things down slightly, but it still meant Zalmi had coasted to the target with nine overs to spare. Karachi Kings’ poor run since the resumption of the league continues, but the damage this defeat will inflict might reflect just as heavily in the minds as it will in the run-rate column.
Zazai’s devastating debut
Zazai is set to become a T20 franchise darling over the years, but even so, the contempt with which he lay waste to experienced, wily Kings bowlers in his first PSL game was a sight to behold. Once Kamran Akmal was dismissed in the second over, Zazai decided he wouldn’t let it scupper plans to wrap up the game in a hurry, and Amir was the unfortunate recipient at the end of his first offensive.
The first six was a shade streaky, a top edge over third man, but there was nothing chancy about the three boundaries that followed in an over that leaked 21. It was followed up by an over from the other Aamer Yamin – which proved even costlier, two sixes and two fours from the Afghan seeing him hurtle along to a blitzkrieg half-century. The timing and power were both astonishing, a fearsome 97-metre swipe over square leg perhaps the shot of the night. The 50 would come in just 17 balls – a joint record – and by then, the match had long been over as a contest.
Abrar haunts his old franchise
When legspinner Abrar was first introduced to the PSL by Karachi Kings in 2017, he looked a proper mystery spin bowler, one who might go on to become a valuable asset for his franchise. Opportunities were hard to come by and he was let go after a couple of seasons, but making his debut for Peshawar Zalmi, he showed his old side what they missed. Coming in when Imad Wasim’s side were already hobbling after a difficult first ten overs, he kept the Kings on a leash in his first over, allowing just two runs.
The 22-year old burst to life in the one that followed, though. He broke the budding partnership with a carrom ball Najibullah Zadran ended up holing out to long-off, before one that drifted back in put paid to Yamin’s brief stint at the crease. With Wahab deciding to bowl him out consecutively, he would sign off by deceiving Waqas Maqsood with a googly, two balls after the batsman had smashed him for six. He would end his day with figures of 4-0-14-3, and they didn’t flatter him in the slightest.
Where they stand
Karachi Kings were top when the league resumed, but slipped to fifth, outside the qualification spots. Peshawar Zalmi moved up to 10 points alongside Lahore Qalandars, and into second place.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
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