In the middle of the Ranji Trophy match between Railways and Punjab at the Karnail Singh Stadium was on Wednesday, a decision was made to suspend the game. The match officials had deemed the track “dangerous and unfit for play”, and thus the two-day game will resume on a new surface beginning Thursday.
Concern began to rise when a total of 24 wickets fell in just 103 overs with fast bowlers accounting for 20 of them. During the drinks break in the second session, on-field umpires K Madanagopal and Rajeev Godara discussed the field safety matter with match referee Youraj Singh. They also had a word with both captains – Mandeep Singh of Punjab and Karn Sharma of Railways.
This is not the first time that Karnail Singh Stadium has garnered negative attention. In 2011, the BCCI’s technical committee placed the venue on a watchlist for producing poor pitches. The following year, the stadium ended up banned for two years from hosting games.
It was reported that the committee discovered local curators had deliberately under-prepared the wicket to help Railways, forcing the team to shift their home base to Bhubaneswar. It was in 2014 that the venue go reinstated.
Before the match was suspended, Punjab was at 18 for 4 in their second essay after taking a 12-run first innings lead. When interviewed about the match suspension, Punjab batter Abhishek Sharma said, “I have never seen a wicket like that in Ranji before. The bounce was too unpredictable making the pitch very unsafe. What we have been told that the game will be played on a fresh pitch.”
He also talked about how it was a right call for the umpires and match referee to abandon the match and start afresh on Thursday. Other players also had plenty to say about the pitch. According to an interview with Railways all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, he stated, “I was hit twice on the helmet, six or seven times on the ribs and hands. Our senior batsman Arindam Ghosh has fractured his hand. It was an uneven surface.”
It was also reported that Punjab openers Prabhsimran Singh and Abhishek Sharma were hit twice on the helmet in the second innings.
While the decision to suspend the game was dealt with a positive response, there will be consequences for the teams. The Elite Group D game is now reduced to a two-day affair. With their matches delayed, it is hard to say what will happen to Railways and Punjab’s chances in the tournament.
Before this match, Punjab’s first match had ended in a draw after bad light brought early end to their contest against Chandigarh. Railways, on the other hand, had lost to Vidarbha by 194-run.
Currently, Punjab is 3rd in their group standings with 7 points while Railways is in 7th place with zero points. Between the two, Railways has more at stake in the tournament. The group stages will be running until January 25.