In one of the most thrilling games in the history of the Ranji Trophy, Mumbai and Maharashtra managed to end their last league game with a fighting draw after the two sides tied their first-innings total on 384 runs.
The two sides needed a win for a first-innings lead to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, and a tied first-innings result resulted in Andhra qualifying for the quarter-finals of the red-ball format.
With the game going all the way down to the wire and Mumbai requiring 258 runs in 28 overs at the Brabourne Stadium, the home team were 58 runs short of the target when the umpires decided to call it stumps on the final day.
In a post-match interaction with the media after the game, Ajinkya Rahane called for five-day games in Ranji Trophy. "First-class cricket can become five-day cricket. We play Test matches over five days, and in five days the possibility of a result is almost guaranteed. You will get more results. Every game should be result-oriented," Rahane said, as quoted by ESPN Cricinfo.
"In four-day games, on flat decks, you don't really get results. We tried to get as many results as possible, but it becomes challenging. In five-day cricket, that will happen more frequently. I don't know how it can be fit into the calendar, but five-day cricket will make domestic cricketers get used to the rigours of first-class cricket," he further added.
The Mumbai skipper also shared insights on how five-day cricket can improve the standard of Test cricketers produced in India. "If you play out a session, you can save a match in four-day games, but if you are made to slog for three more sessions, it will give them a better opportunity to develop better Test cricketers," he said.
"How to survive sessions, how to be disciplined with the ball, all these factors can be taken care of if we play all Ranji Trophy games over five days. Anyway, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final are five-day games. If it's implemented in the league stage, nothing like that," he further added.
The right-handed batter also urged the Board to look into the financial penalty for over rates in the Ranji Trophy and said that the teams would be more careful if points are docked, which can affect their qualification.
"Over rates are critical. If you don't fine teams with points for over rate, financial penalty doesn't really matter. But if you cut a point for slow over rate, the teams will be aware of it because it will be critical for their qualification."
The 34-year-old scored 634 runs in 11 innings at an average of 57.63 and was one of the mainstays in the batting unit of the 41-time champions before they bowed out of competition.
"I am extremely disappointed that we could not qualify for the knockouts. This bunch definitely takes red-ball cricket seriously. And my message to everyone is you should enjoy four-day cricket. Everyone wants instant success, but patience, focus, and determination is critical for this format."
"Even if things don't go your way in two-three games. There are many boys who enjoy going through it in the red-ball format. And I have told all of them that you have to enjoy every moment because this is real cricket," he concluded.