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Need schedule relook, more breaks between Ranji games: Shardul Thakur

Ranji Trophy started on January 5 and the final is from March 10. There are three days between every match with the semifinal ending on March 6.

One of the challenges for teams in the Ranji Trophy this season has been the workload management of their fast bowlers because of back-to-back matches. The teams qualifying for the final would have played 10 matches in two-and-a-half months — seven four-day games, and three five-day games from quarter-final onwards.

Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Tamil Nadu’s Vijay Shankar (PTI)

Ranji Trophy started on January 5 and the final is from March 10. There are three days between every match with the semifinal ending on March 6. Mumbai all-rounder Shardul Thakur, who has bowled 14 overs in the Tamil Nadu first innings and hit a century, said the workload made it tough for the players.

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“It’s difficult because we are playing first-class matches with three-day gaps; I don’t think it has ever happened. When I started playing Ranji matches, the first three games used to have three-day breaks, then four days (for the second half of the league).

“The knockouts had five days in between. Now we have seen that all matches are played with three days’ gap, so it is extremely tough for the domestic players. To expect them to play 10 games in a row with just three days’ gap if the team reaches the final! I think next year they will have to have a relook at it and give more break. The schedule is becoming tighter and tighter. If the boys keep playing like this for two more seasons there will be a lot of injuries across the country,” said Thakur.

For well over a decade, there were nine teams in a group, which means each team got a week’s break at some point during the league stage. But since the format was changed to Elite and Plate leagues, and with eight teams in each group, all the teams are playing continuously.

Thakur gave the example of bowling partner Mohit Avasthi, who has been playing from the start of the league. “Mohit played five games in a row and had an injury in the sixth. He had huge workload because Tushar (Deshpande) was called up for India A. Because of the workload, he got injured and missed one game. That’s (injury) because there is not enough spacing between games.”

Tamil Nadu captain R Sai Kishore agreed with Thakur on fast bowlers enduring a tough schedule. The left-arm spinner said he manages his load by not training between games. “A few players feel the same. Fast bowlers are extra tired because you travel on one day (out of the three). I don’t train much because of the three-day thing. I bowl directly match-to-match so the load on my body is fine. I am managing myself that way, but it should be harder for the fast bowlers,” Kishore said.


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