Suryavanshi makes first-class debut aged 12; Two Bihar squads named in controversial Ranji start

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The beginning of the 2023-24 Ranji Trophy brought crowds in big numbers to Patna’s Moin-ul-Haq Stadium – a venue that once hosted World Cup fixtures in 1996 – and hosts Bihar gave the people plenty of reasons to cheer. Mumbai, the 41-time champions, had been reduced to 235 for 9 on the opening day of their Elite Group B fixture.

However, unknown to the crowd, a massive controversy had been brewing on the sidelines when the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) found itself in a tussle with its suspended former secretary Amit Kumar, who had named a squad of his own to take the field. Contrary to reports, though, two teams had been anointed only on paper, and only the BCA’s squad that had been designated as the “official” team took the field. At the gates outside the venue, though, chaos ensured, with a fuming Amit believed to have allegedly attacked an official.

“There was a life-threatening attack on BCA’s OSD Manoj Kumar by those involved in the fake team,” stated an official BCA release on Friday afternoon. “The miscreants have been identified, and action will be taken against them.”

Amit had once been part of BCA president Rakesh Tiwary’s faction that had contested and won the BCA elections prior to the association receiving BCCI’s affiliate membership, and was allowed to contest in the senior domestic competitions ahead of the 2018-19 season.

At the time, the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which had been tasked to run the BCCI, had appointed an independent election observer in a three-member committee to conduct free and fair elections. Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper, too had visited Patna to oversee the formalisation of the body in his capacity as General Manager (cricket operations).

But Amit’s relationship with Tiwary is believed to have strained in 2022, when he was alleged to have been involved with one of the warring factions. When the matter was brought to the dispensation led by Tiwary, Amit was suspended. He hasn’t held any position in the association since, by virtue of which, teams he anoints on paper remain “null and void”.

Vaibhav Suryavanshi debuts for Bihar aged 12

Bihar also saw a landmark when they handed a debut to Vaibhav Suryavanshi, aged 12 years and 284 days. As per his official age, confirmed by the BCA, he becomes the youngest Indian first-class debutant since 1986.

Suryavanshi, a left-hand batter, was in the running for India Under-19 too, having made 93 runs in five innings at the Vinoo Mankad Trophy for Bihar. Those performances earned him a spot in the Under-19 Challenger Trophy as well as in the Under-19 Quadrangular, also involving Bangladesh and England, following which the junior selection panel named their India squad for the Under-19 World Cup to be held in South Africa later this month.

Spectators warned at dilapidated stadium

On an eventful day for the BCA, it also had to also grapple with lack of mechanisms in place to accommodate the large crowds that had presumably turned up to get a glimpse of Ajinkya Rahane, Mumbai’s designated captain. However, Rahane was forced to miss the game after waking up with neck spasms, but walked around the boundary ropes to acknowledge the large crowd that had gathered.

That aside, the condition of the stadium was dilapidated, so much so that the spectators who came in were walking past posters that warned them of entering at their own risk. ESPNcricinfo understands that the crumbly structure can’t be tampered with, as the ground belongs to the municipal corporation and not the state association.

“Yes, the condition is bad but there is a plan to make this stadium world class, and the tender for it has also been passed,” Tiwary said in his defence. “It will be revamped very soon, [but] because the match was still to be played, we have somehow made it playable. We have full hope that soon this stadium will start shining like its old history.”


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