Ajinkya Rahane bats for five-day Ranji Trophy league games

The veteran India and Mumbai player reckons there should be five-day matches played all through the premier domestic first-class competition. 
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Ajinkya Rahane believes the league-stage encounters of the Ranji Trophy should be five-day affairs. The India and Mumbai veteran batter reckons that would be a fairer arrangement for all teams in the country's premier domestic first-class competition. 

Currently, only the knock-outs round spans over five-day matches with the league stage games played in regular four-day version. But Rahane is of the view that the five-day format shall be adopted throughout the tournament to further strengthen the Ranji scene and give teams a greater opportunity to forge outright wins. 

The Mumbai skipper's comments arrived after his team faced a league-stage exit from the ongoing season due to a rare first-innings tie with Maharashtra, which left them needing an outright victory on the third and the final day. The third-innings took time to complete, leaving Mumbai only 28 overs to make 253 as the game ultimately ended in a draw. 

Ajinkya Rahane felt had there been an extra day at his team's disposal, they would've made a better feast of the target and made the cut to the quarterfinals. 

Rahane wants five-day games in Ranji Trophy

"First-class cricket can become five-day cricket," Rahane was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "We play Test matches over five days and in five days the possibility of a result is almost guaranteed. You will get more results. Every game should be result-oriented."

"In four-day games, on flat decks, you don't really get results. We tried to get as many results as possible, but it becomes challenging. In five-day cricket, that will happen more frequently. I don't know how it can be fit into the calendar, but five-day cricket will make domestic cricketers get used to the rigours of first-class cricket."

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Previously as well, prominent names within the Indian cricket scene, the likes of Anil Kumble, Gautam Gambhir and various others, have called for the expansion of Ranji seasons to feature five-day matches as a means to also sharpen player's survival instincts, making the transition to the Test match game a bit smoother - something Rahane, too, stressed upon. 

"If you play out a session, you can save a match in four-day games, but if you are made to slog for three more sessions, it will give them a better opportunity to develop better Test cricketers. It can automatically be carried forward into international cricket."

"How to survive sessions, how to be disciplined with the ball, all these factors can be taken care of if we play all Ranji Trophy games over five days. Anyway, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final are five-day games. If it's implemented in the league [stage], nothing like that."

Rahane urged the BCCI technical committee looking after domestic structure and tournaments to also consider adopting over-rate points penalty rather than just imposing financial fines to speed up the action in the middle. Currently, teams can game the system by delaying their overs and saving time needed to bat for a draw, say in the final innings, knowing all they will be facing is a percentage of their match fees. 

"Over rates are critical," Rahane stressed. "If you don't fine teams with points for over rate, financial penalty doesn't really matter. But if you cut a point for slow over rate, the teams will be aware about it because it will be critical for their qualification."

In what was his first full-fledged season of Ranji Trophy since 2010-11, Rahane, out-of-favour from the Indian Test team, topped the runs chart for Mumbai. The cricketer reckons the quality of cricket on the pitch was healthy but opined that players at times tended to choose the aggressive route too early rather than persisting with the hard grind. 

"In four-day cricket, majority of teams have started losing their patience too early. Be it batting or bowling. Everyone wants to score runs quickly or pick up wickets. Instead, you should try and play out sessions or bowl a consistently good spell. A batter should enjoy defending, a bowler should enjoy bowling a maiden."

"I have seen all the teams getting desperate for wickets, rather than waiting patiently with a plan. And no one tries to bat out a session, instead they want to score quickly. I feel the basics of playing out sessions is the key in four-day or five-day cricket," Rahane said.