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Pruned Ranji Trophy to begin on February 17


Premier domestic tournament to commence on Feb. 17 at nine venues

Defending champion Saurashtra has been clubbed with domestic powerhouse Mumbai in Group D, while Tamil Nadu will enter as the second-seeded team in Group H in a curtailed edition of the Ranji Trophy, set to commence on Feb. 17 at nine venues. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah confirmed the groups, venues and the tournament format in a letter to all its affiliated units on Friday.

The BCCI, after considering the possibility of letting top teams as many assured games as possible, has decided to revise the format. Each of the nine group table-toppers will qualify for the knockouts. The topper from Plate will face the lowest-ranked of the eight qualifiers from the Elite group (criteria to be decided).

Besides the playing conditions, Shah informed that the detailed match schedule will “soon” be communicated along with COVID-19 guidelines. The BCCI has confirmed that the teams will have to enter their respective bisecure hub on February 10 and the first phase of the tournament will be over on March 15. The quarterfinals, semifinals and the final will be played from May 30 to June 26, after the conclusion of the Indian Premier League.

The rejigged format offers only three league games for every team, with only the table-topper progressing to the knockouts. Tamil Nadu will travel to Guwahati and will vie against Delhi, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, while Saurashtra and Mumbai will compete in Ahmedabad along with Odisha and Goa.

Chennai will host Group C with favourite Karnataka, Railways, Jammu & Kashmir and Pondicherry involved in a tussle for the top spot.

The pruned format means the Ranji Trophy will be reduced to a 65-match affair [not 64, as specified in Shah’s letter]. The last Ranji edition, held in 2019-20, saw 169 games, with each team being assured of at least eight games.

While the BCCI is yet to confirm the dates of the matches, The Hindu understands that the three league games will be scheduled from February 17 to 20, February 24 to 27 and March 3 to 6. Kolkata will host the pre-quarterfinal from March 12 to 15.

The groupings

Elite Group A at Rajkot: Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya

Elite Group B at Cuttack: Bengal, Baroda, Hyderabad, Chandigarh

Elite Group C at Chennai: Karnataka, Railways, Jammu & Kashmir, Pondicherry

Elite Group D at Ahmedabad: Saurashtra, Mumbai, Odisha, Goa

Elite Group E at Thiruvananthapuram: Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Services, Uttarakhand

Elite Group F at Delhi: Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Tripura

Elite Group G at Haryana (Gurugram and Rohtak): Vidarbha, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Assam

Elite Group H at Guwahati: Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh

Plate Group at Kolkata: Bihar, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh



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