The top five Ranji teams from Elite A and B groups qualify for the knockouts. Two teams from Elite C, along with one team from Plate Group have qualified for the knockouts as well, completing the quarterfinals line-up.
According to a report by the Times of India, many Elite A and B group captains and coaches are unhappy with the current qualification system but not many were willing to speak on the record.
Former Mumbai, Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh coach Sulakshan Kulkarni said that there should be a separate championship for Plate Group teams.
“Let’s be honest, they are nowhere near even Elite C group teams. Look at the quarterfinal line-up now. A top team would be relaxed that they would be playing a team from the Plate group in the quarterfinal. There should be a separate championship for Plate group teams. A Plate group team in the quarterfinals dilutes the competition and standard of cricket.”
Kulkarni further said,
“Top six teams should get direct entry to quarterfinals, while last four teams should play pre-quarterfinals. Qualification has become more difficult than winning the championship. In December and January, many matches get affected by weather. Many teams suffered this season too. One bad match and a team’s qualification chances get affected.”
Former Chhattisgarh bowling coach P Krishnakumar said two teams from Elite C should be demoted to the Plate group.
“A Plate team should get a promotion but not the direct quarterfinal berth. It’s unfair on A and B group teams. There’s very little to choose between top 18 teams these days. Two teams from Elite C should be demoted so that Plate group teams can get to play some competitive teams. It will help them improve.”
Former Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare suggested a county cricket system like in the UK.
“Even if there’s no outright result, a lot of points will still be up for grabs. That will keep the contest interesting and every team will have a lot to look forward to.”
Kulkarni echoes Tare’s sentiments, stating,
“In the 90s, Mumbai conceded the first-innings lead to Gujarat but ended up earning more points than Gujarat due to batting points.”
“On placid wickets, there will be fight for every run and every wicket. Instead of dull draws, you will have intense matches. It will eventually improve the standard of the game.”