The Ranji Trophy league phase has entered the business end. With the last round of matches beginning on Tuesday, here is a look at those in contention
How does it work
> There are four Elite groups with 8 teams each. The top two from each group make it to the quarterfinals based on
> Number of points they earn
> If points are equal, the team with the higher number of bonus points will be ranked higher
> If points and number of bonus points are equal, the team with greater number of outright wins will be ranked higher
If teams are equal on points, bonus points and outright wins, they will be ranked as follows:
> The team which has won the match against each other.
> If points, bonus points and number of outright wins are equal and the above clause is not applicable, the team with the higher run quotient in the league stage.
> In the unlikely event that teams cannot be separated by the above, passage will be decided by draw of Iots.
With 32 points, Bengal have already made it to the quarterfinals. The likelihood of them finishing as table-toppers remains high and a first-innings lead against Odisha at Eden Gardens will be sufficient. For the second spot from the group, there is competition between Uttarakhand (26) and Himachal Pradesh (20). While the former take on Haryana at Lahli, the latter face Uttar Pradesh at Nadaun. In case Uttarakhand manage only a draw and lose out on first innings lead, ending with 27 points, Himachal can advance provided they beat Uttar Pradesh by 10 wickets or by an innings. Although both teams will be tied on 27 points in that scenario, Himachal can go through based on more bonus points.
If Uttarakhand lose and Himachal win without a bonus point, both teams will end up with 26 points and it will come down to the number of outright wins. Since it would be three wins each, bonus points will also be equal, and it will come down to head-to-head between the two. In that case, Uttarakhand will go through as they defeated Himachal in the third round by five wickets.
When the sixth round began, it seemed a formality for Saurashtra and Mumbai to go through. But both teams suffered shock defeats and that has left the race for the top two wide open. Saurashtra (26), Maharashtra (25) and Mumbai (23) can all make it to the quarterfinals. Saurashtra can advance if they can manage a win or first innings lead against Tamil Nadu in Chennai. They are well placed to qualify because Maharashtra and Mumbai face each other in the last game.
In case Saurashtra ends up losing, they will need an outright result between Maharashtra and Mumbai. Although Andhra (19) can match them on points if they defeat Assam with a bonus point, and will have more wins than Saurashtra, they will still be eliminated as the latter has more bonus points (2).
For Maharashtra to qualify, a first innings lead (in a drawn game) against Mumbai will suffice. But in case Maharashtra miss out on the first innings lead and end up drawing the game, Mumbai will match them with 26 points. In that case, Mumbai will go through as they have won two matches with bonus points to Maharashtra’s zero. There is also a strong chance that four teams, including Andhra, can end up with 26 points. In that case, Saurashtra and Mumbai will go through thanks to more bonus points and despite having more outright wins, Andhra will be on their way home.
Another group that is interestingly poised. Karnataka with 29 points are already through. But for the remaining one spot there are four teams in fray. Jharkhand (23), Kerala (20), Rajasthan (20) and Goa (18) can all make it to the quarterfinals. Jharkhand (23) who are in second spot are facing Karnataka and need a victory to be assured of a quarterfinal spot. They can still manage by taking a first innings lead provided Kerala and Rajasthan don’t end up on the winning side against Pondicherry and Services respectively.
In case Jharkhand just manages the first innings lead and Kerala and Rajasthan post wins sans bonus point, all three will be level on 26 points. In that scenario, it will come down to Jharkhand vs Rajasthan with Kerala out of the reckoning as they don’t have a bonus point. Since Jharkhand and Rajasthan will be level on bonus points too (1 each) as well as number of outright wins (3 each), it will come down to head-to-head. And since Jharkhand vs Rajasthan ended in a draw, it will bring the runs per wicket ratio into play. If they are still tied on that, the qualifier will be decided on a draw of lots.
If Jharkhand lose and Rajasthan win, but Kerala end up beating Pondicherry by 10 wickets or an innings, they will take the second spot and qualify. However, if Jharkhand loses and both Rajasthan and Kerala end up with bonus points in the last game, it will come down to who has more bonus points. In that case, Rajasthan will pip Kerala because they will have two bonus points.
If Jharkhand, Kerala and Rajasthan end up losing, Goa can make it provided they defeat Chhattisgarh at Raipur.
There are no complications here as defending champions Madhya Pradesh (32) have already made it to the quarterfinals. For the second spot, there is a match-up between Punjab (26) and Vidarbha (19) who face each other in Mohali. For the hosts, a draw is enough to qualify. And for Vidarbha to progress, they need to win by 10 wickets or by an innings.
In that case, it will leave both the teams level on bonus points (1 each), but Vidarbha can make it to the quarterfinals on the basis of having more outright wins (4) than Punjab (3).