After a prolonged gap of 22 months, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that they are going to conduct India’s premier domestic cricket competition Ranji Trophy in two phases – a pre-IPL phase and a post-IPL phase. BCCI secretary on Thursday informed the state units that the 1st phase of the Ranji Trophy will be played from February 10 to March 15 while the 2nd phase will be a post-IPL phase from May 30 to June 26.
According to the board’s letter, it is going to be one of the shortest first-class seasons as most of the teams will get to play only three matches each. This also means that the increased match fees will not affect most of the teams.
There will be 64 matches in the entire season with 57 matches in the 1st phase and 7 in the concluding phase. All the matches will be played across nine venues including Kolkata, Chennai, Rajkot, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Cuttack, Trivandrum, and Haryana in 62 days.
A total of 38 teams have been divided into nine groups – eight Elite groups and one Plate. Eight Elite groups will have four teams each while the Plate will comprise six teams. Teams Chandigarh and Meghalaya have directly been placed in the Elite division.
As per the game’s format, all the Elite teams in a group will play against each other on the league stage. On the other hand, Plate teams will face only three teams from their group. The Knockouts will have 7 matches that will start immediately after the IPL.
“One team from each Elite Group will qualify for the quarter-final (barring one). The lowest-ranked qualified team from the 8 Elite Group will play the top-ranked team. from Plate Group in the pre-quarterfinal,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote in its letter sent to all state associations.
“We have spread out the Ranji Trophy to 9 different venues across the country to mitigate any cross transmission risk while also ensuring that blo-secure bubbles are not overburdened. While the persistent virus has still breached the bubble, we have factored in certain contingency plans drawing from our past experience while formulating this structure,” Shah further wrote.
There were no red ball domestic cricket games in India after the Ranji Trophy 2020 final. In the last season, Ranji Trophy was cancelled due to the Covid19 upsurge. The board was reluctant to conduct Ranji Trophy this year too but, after facing pressure from many formal cricketers, they finally announced the latest season of the domestic tournament.
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