“Give it to the umpires!” said Harbhajan Singh, half in jest, when somebody asked who should be given the runner-up trophy.
Mercifully, after five days of witnessing a damp outfield at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here, the final of the Duleep Trophy did not go to the reserve day. North and South Zone were thus declared joint winners on Monday.
The Duleep Trophy has been shared thrice before, but, according to cricket statisticians, the five-day final in Kochi was the shortest in history with just 10 overs of play possible during which South Zone made 33 for two.
“I’m happy that I’m going back now. I’ve been in Kochi for 13-14 days and we didn’t get to play,” said North Zone captain Harbhajan. “It was an important game for me and for a lot of other guys, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
Harbhajan also gave the impression that more overs could have been bowled during the lone ‘dry day’ — the second day when the wicket looked dry and there was no overnight rain — when the umpires gave the green signal for play to commence only at 3.30 p.m.
“Sometimes, I felt it was a bit playable, but obviously we can’t take the call,” said the off-spinner, who took one wicket in the three overs he bowled in the semifinal.
“The umpires felt people might get injured. At the end of the day, the players need to respect the umpires’ decision and follow it. We just need to move ahead now. I look forward to the Ranji Trophy and whatever opportunities come my way.”
South Zone captain Abhinav Mukund also said the final turned out to be a very frustrating experience.
“I think so, because we had two really good games, and I wanted to have another good one here for the team and for those looking to make a comeback, but unfortunately you can’t control some things and this is one of them.”