Much-delayed cricket season begins from today

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Hyderabad: The much-delayed cricket season begins from Wednesday. The Covid-19 pandemic had totally disrupted the start of the season, but with the announcement of all India T20 Mushtaq Ali tournament getting under way from January 10, the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) got into the act to get the ball rolling for the much-starved cricket matches. The HCA has promised that all Covid-19 protocols will be followed, particularly with testing of players. “We will be strict on this issue,’’ said R Vijayanand, secretary of the association even though there is no word on the start of the league yet by president Mohammad Azharuddin. The former Indian captain had been insisting he would not put players’ health at risk.

But for players, it could be a much-awaited new season. They waited for a long period of time before they got to play their first match on Wednesday. There has been criticism of HCA’s decision to have a three-day league instead of T20. But the officials reasoned that by playing 90 overs and 40 overs each the batsmen and bowlers will get the feel of a match practice. They will get their eye in the first innings and in the second innings, they can flex their muscles with the bat or use the guile with the ball.

The HCA had been receiving flak for increasing the number of teams in the three-day league. With the standard of the game deteriorating as evident with an abysmal performance in the Ranji Trophy last season when they lost six out of the eight matches, it is a big challenge for HCA for improving the game in the city. Even a few club secretaries have questioned the HCA’s decision to increase the number of teams in the premier league. “We doubt their intentions. Some of the teams don’t deserve to be in the top league,’’ said a club secretary.

The next immediate priority for the HCA would be to decide on the appointment of senior selectors and coach for the team. As per the Lodha Committee reforms, it is the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) who have to appoint the senior selectors. Last season, the selection panel was headed by RA Swaroop. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) can only approve the CAC list. With HCA yet to form a CAC despite being in the office for more than one year, the Apex Council has to take a decision on appointing an ad-hoc selection committee to pick the team for the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. Interestingly, most of the State associations have already named probable list for the Mushtaq Ali tournament.

Teams: Pool A: BDL, Budding Stars, Deccan Chronicle, EMCC, Income Tax, Jai Hanuman, R Dayanand, SBI, SCRSA, Sporting XI. Pool B: AOC XI, Cambridge XI, Concorde CC, Continental, Ensconse, Evergreen, Gemini Friends, Hyderabad Bottling, MP Colts and Zinda Cricket Club


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