A six-hour bus journey from Rajkot to Ahmedabad starting midnight on Sunday. A two-hour, 15 minute-flight from Ahmedabad to Chennai and then a seven-and-a-half-hour bus journey to Ongole. That's how the Saurashtra cricket team reached the Andhra Pradesh town for their Ranji Trophy quarter-final which begins on Thursday.
No wonder Saurashtra's former India all-rounder coach Karsan Ghavri exclaimed to mid-day, "My boys are knackered."
"The distance we've had to travel to get here is absolutely unthinkable. The aspect I just cannot understand is why could this match not be held in Visakhapatnam," said Ghavri, who is aware that AP has won their last three games (against Delhi, Hyderabad and Kerala) outright at Ongole.
"Probably, they believe they can beat us in conditions that suit them but we are ready for any conditions. This doesn't worry us," said Ghavri of his side who were responsible for putting Mumbai out of the reckoning through their stubborn batting that led to a draw at Rajkot on February 7. Kamlesh Makvana (31 not out) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (33 not out) put on 75 runs to keep Mumbai at bay.
"Personally, I am very disappointed by this travel situation. If this is the kind of journeys teams have to endure, then it's bad news for Indian cricket and the BCCI's fixtures committee must look into this. Big matches likes these need to be played at prominent centres. And our hotel here is third grade," said Ghavri, who has had the distinction of playing and coaching both Mumbai and Saurashtra. He was coach-cum-manager of Ravi Shastri's team which broke Mumbai's eight-season winless Ranji Trophy streak in 1993-94.
Ghavri, 68, said the Saurashtra Cricket Association tried to have their team travel via other routes in batches, but flight tickets were unavailable. "Luckily, we have an afternoon practice session tomorrow so that we can get a bit more rest tonight," said the former India star.