The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday announced the schedule for the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy tournament, which will now begin on 23 December. The knockout stage was initially scheduled to start on 17 December, but the Board was forced to push back the matches after two of the group stage games were postponed due to smog in New Delhi.
The two semi-finals will be held in Rajkot and Nagpur respectively, with both matches starting on 1 January, 2017. After successfully hosting a Test match, Indore's Holkar Stadium will now host the final of Ranji Trophy, which has been scheduled from 10 to 14 January, 2017. According to a Times of India report, the city will be hosting a Ranji Trophy final match after almost 70 years. Indore hosted its first Ranji Trophy final during the Holkar era in 1954-55.
Here's a look at the quarter-final clashes and their venues:
1. Hyderabad vs Mumbai in Raipur
2. Karnataka vs Tamil Nadu in Visakhapatnam
3. Gujarat vs Odisha in Jaipur
4. Haryana vs Jharkhand in Vadodara
None of the seven venues named for the knockouts is home for any of the eight teams that have qualified, ensuring that each match will be on completely neutral territory – a new experiment that the Indian cricket board has implemented for the 2016-17 season.
The latest schedule is the third iteration that the BCCI has come up with for the country’s premier domestic tournament.
According to a Times of India report, Ravichandran Ashwin and Murali Vijay have been picked by the Tamil Nadu team for the knockouts.
Former BCCI president and Tamil Nadu Cricket Association chief N Srinivasan made it clear that he would like star players Ashwin and Vijay to play for the state during their upcoming Ranji Trophy quarter-final tie against Karnataka.
"We want them to play and they are both keen to play," said Srinivasan, on the sidelines of the Indian team's ongoing fifth Test against England.
Vijay and Ashwin's presence will certainly help bolster the Tamil Nadu side, as they might be up against stiff opposition if both KL Rahul and Karun Nair turn up for Karnataka.
However, Vijay's shoulder injury – sustained while fielding during the current Test match – means that he might not open the batting alongside Rahul. It is yet to be seen if Vijay will get fit by the time the quarters start after the Test match concludes on 20 December. The former BCCI president also wants Vijay to prove his fitness before the domestic game.
"Ashwin is going to Dubai to attend the inauguration of an academy the day after the Test ends but will be back in time for the Ranji quarter-final," said Srinivasan.
Other state cricket associations, whose teams have made it to the quarter-final stage, would also love to field Indian national team players in their playing XI's.
Haryana Cricket Association secretary Anirudh Chaudhary said that they would need the services of their key spinners Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav against Jharkhand. "Of course, we would obviously love to have both Amit and Jayant playing in the quarter-finals as India don't play any matches after this. Regarding Jayant (who missed the final Test due to an injury), it's subject to fitness," Chaudhary told Times of India on Sunday.
R Sudhakar Rao, chairman of the Karnataka State Cricket Association selection committee, also expressed a desire to have KL Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey back in the state team.
(With inputs from PTI)
Updated Date: Dec 19, 2016 18:45:57 IST