The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chalked down a rough schedule for this year’s domestic season. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, Indian cricket has already lost ample time leading to curtailment and cancellation of a few tournaments. While IPL has been shifted out of India in the September- November window, BCCI has now decided to host only Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 League this season.
Delighted that @bcci has prioritised the Ranji Trophy and the Mushtaq Ali tournaments. A third choice if possible, should have been the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Don't think we need to look beyond. Play for state or country or franchise in the IPL. Zone teams have lost meaning
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) August 9, 2020
The Irani Cup, Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and the VIjay Hazare Trophy are amongst the lesser prioritized by the BCCI. NCA Chief Rahul Dravid and the IPL Chairman Hemang Amin set up the tentative schedule for India’s domestic season starting November 19. Immediately after IPL, the state teams will fight in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 League. The Ranji Trophy will be played from December 13th.
The Formats this Season:
Contrary to the speculations raised, BCCI has decided against opting for a Zonal system for Ranji Trophy matches. The teams will be divided into 4 groups and will play in a total of 136 matches, 33 less than the previous iterations. Moreover, to avoid excessive travelling, each group will play its matches across 4 stadiums in 2 neighbouring cities.
The teams have been divided into five groups. Groups A, B, C will consist of 8 teams each and Group D will have six.seven.eight teams. The six north-eastern teams will form Group E. The top two teams of Group A, B, C will qualify for the quarterfinals. The seventh team to qualify will be the best placed third team from A,B,C. Interestingly, the top placed teams of Groups D and E (relegated teams and minnows) will play amongst themselves to decide the eight quarter-finalists in a virtual pre-quarterfinal.
The top three from Group D will be promoted to Groups A, B and C respectively. They will replace the bottom placed sides from the top tier groups. Meanwhile, the top placed team from Group E will be promoted to Group D in place of the bottom placed Group D team.
Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 on other hand will see the 38 teams get divided into six groups. Each group will play on two grounds in the same city. The curtailed version of the tournament will see 109 matches, 40 less than previous years.
BCCI give Women extra game-time:
BCCI drew flak with their decision to cancel the Women team’s tour to England next month. However, the board did compensate with the announcement of the Women’sT20 Challenge in UAE. Adding further, BCCI has decided to host a full fledged Women’s domestic schedule as well. Women’s domestic season this year will consist of the One-Day League (March 17 to April 12, 2021), T20 League (November 1-20), U-23 One-Day league (November 30-December 23), U-23 T20 league (January 27 to February 15), U-19 One-Day League (December 29- January 21) and U-19 T20 Trophy (Feb 21 to March 11).
The exact date of fixtures and venues is yet to be announced. Though the required provisions are being made, BCCI holds rights to tweak the format and schedule of the need be, depending on the raging COVID19 pandemic.