Rajkot, Mar. 13:
The final day of the Ranji Trophy summit clash between Bengal and Saurashtra will be played without any spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCCI said on Thursday.
“No public will be allowed on the final day. Only the players, match officials, officials from the host association and media are allowed,” BCCI general manager Saba Karim, who is in charge of domestic cricket, told PTI.
The decision came after the Sports Ministry’s advisory to all NSFs to follow the Health Ministry’s advisory and avoid large gatherings in sports events.
The government’s directive is unlikely to have a huge impact on the final day’s proceedings with only a handful of spectators coming to watch the action on the previous four days.
Bengal are aiming for their first title since 1989-90 while Saurashtra are eying their maiden trophy. After a drab three days, Thursday witnessed absorbing action with both teams fighting to take the first innings lead, which will effectively decide the Ranji Trophy winner.
The decision to not allow fans to watch day five of Ranji Trophy final comes after a host of sporting events have been cancelled around the world or are being conducted in empty stadiums to tackle the Coronavirus threat.
Bengal, who have four wickets in hand, need 72 runs to overcome Saurashtra’s 425 for the all-important first innings lead.
Meanwhile, Bengal’s Anustup Majumdar stood between Saurashtra and Ranji Trophy with a defiant unbeaten 58 as the summit clash entered a tantalizing final day with the visitors needing 72 runs more.
Bengal ended the fourth day at 354 for six as Majumdar added 91 runs for the unbroken seventh wicket stand with Arnab Nandi (28 batting, 82 balls), who showed a lot of courage despite getting hit on the finger by Jaydev Unadkat delivery.
Majumdar, who had bailed Bengal out of a precarious position in the quarter as well as semi-final, was the saviour again and got much needed support from Nandi as the duo batted out the entire evening session to keep the match evenly poised going into day five. Harvik Desai at first slip dropped a regulation catch of Majumdar, who was on 10 at that time, and it proved to be a costly miss.