Uttarakhand is looking at its Ranji Trophy debut this season with high hopes. The hill state is hopeful of putting an impressive performance. The Committee of Administrators for Board of Control for Cricket in India recently gave approval to Uttarakhand for playing in the domestic cricket. The 18-year long wait has concluded and local cricket experts are optimistic that is everything goes well Uttarakhand can qualify for the next round of Ranji Trophy in its first year.
Uttarakhand is placed in the ‘plate group’ in the Ranji trophy this year. The group consists of Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim & Uttarakhand. Cricket Association of Uttarakhand’s secretary PC Verma says, “If our team plays to their potential we can qualify for the quarter-final stage. We are better prepared than northeast states.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has placed top eighteen teams in the elite A and B groups, five teams will move to the quarterfinal round. The C group consists of ten teams, of which 2 will move to the next stage of Ranji Trophy. The plate group of nine teams mostly includes first-timers. Only Bihar has played Ranji Trophy in the past, otherwise, most of the team are from the northeast where cricket is yet to gain mass popularity.
Cricket coach Manoj Rawat says, “Bihar, Uttarakhand and Puducherry will have an edge over their rivals in the plate group.”
The BCCI was reluctant in providing affiliation to Uttarakhand due to differences between different cricket associations making claim for forming the state association. The BCCI formed a consensus committee to run cricket in Uttarakhand to bring cheers to the sports fans in the hill state.
In the absence of BCCI affiliation, the cricketers had no other options except to migrate to other states for greener pastures. Many Uttarakhand cricketers are playing from other states. The list starts with Rishabh Pant, who is playing for Delhi. Abhimanyu Eshwaran is played domestic cricket for Bengal team, Priyanshu Khanduri is representing H.P, Kunal Chandel (Delhi), Anuj Rawat (Delhi) and Himanshu Asnora (Uttar Pradesh).
Many crickets who have moved out are keen on playing for Uttarakhand. But, the BCCI formed consensus committee for Uttarakhand will be meeting soon to finalize the guidelines for players- who can represent the hill state in the domestic cricket championship. The norms will fix the eligibility, based on their presence in Uttarakhand, for the crickets to represent the state. There is a possibility that many cricketers from Uttarakhand, registered with outside state, will have to wait for few years to represent their home state.