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    Neutral venues for Ranji Trophy fixtures

    Chennai: All Ranji Trophy matches from the 2012-13 season will be played at neutral venues, the BCCI has announced. The decision was taken during the board's Working Committee meeting on Monday with an aim at reducing any home advantages that teams seek to gain through the preparation of pitches.

    The BCCI had introduced neutral venues for Ranji Trophy matches between 2007 and 2009 before senior players objected the decision. Considering that there were 34 draws out of 56 matches in the 2011-12 Ranji season, there is hope that the BCCI's decision will produce more result-oriented pitches.

    The most controversial pitch prepared this season was at the Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi, home to Railways who needed an outright win over Saurashtra to quality for the quarter-finals. However, the home team's ploy of preparing a track where the ball would jump and turn backfired completely as 18 wickets fell on the opening day.

    "I have never seen such a strip in my 45-year career as cricketer and then as a coach. What's the point in having a first-class match on such a wicket? Actually, they didn't even bothered to work on the strip and left it as it is after their last game," a furious Debu Mitra, Saurashtra's coach, had said after the first day's play. Another 18 wickets fell on day two.

    While pitch review was not on the BCCI Working Committee's agenda, it appears the matter was indeed brought up and discussed at length. Another reason for the decision is India's consecutive Test series whitewashes in England and Australia, with certain BCCI officials hoping that the experience of playing in varied conditions will improve the standard of domestic batting.