Neutral venues for Ranji Trophy knock-out games

Point system may also be tweaked to encourage positive play.

Mumbai won the last final playing at home.

There is a strong possibility that the seven knock-out matches of the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy season would be played on neutral, or 'identified', venues.

For this purpose, 10 venues would be identified based on their performances (pitches and other aspects) in the league phase of the tournament. Out of those, seven would host the four quarter-final matches, two semi-finals and the final of the national championship. No venue would host more than one knock-out match.

This was a view that gained currency both in the captains and coaches' conclave held on March 5 and again at a meeting of the Anil Kumble-headed technical committee in Mumbai on Friday.

The working committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) discussed the issue at its meeting on March 15.

"The issue of the 'identified' venues, as we are calling them, was discussed at the last working committee meet and got the approval of the house. It was left to the technical committee, and also the programme and fixtures committee, to finally chalk out a suitable schedule,” a top BCCI official told Mail Today.

"A total of 10 venues would be identified during the league phase of Ranji Trophy, based on factors like pitches and ground conditions etc., and seven out of them would host matches,” he said.

North zone, however, may not get to host any knock-out match mainly due to weather conditions and poor visibility during winter.

"The December-January period is most affected by fog and lack of proper sunshine, and sun also sets sooner during this time than in summer. So, north may not host any knock-out matches,” he said.

The Ranji Trophy points system, which underwent a change this season, may be slightly tweaked to provide more encouragement to teams to go for wins.

"In the present structure, teams that take a first innings lead but still lose get no points. It has now been suggested that they should get three points, so that they are encouraged to compete better,” said a member of the technical committee.

The gap between matches was the other major issue the committee discussed on Friday.

From next season, the second half of the tournament may have four-day gaps instead of three. The panel will finalise its recommendations next month, before sending them to the working committee.

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