Ranji Trophy likely to have a new format this season
The upcoming season of the Ranji Trophy is likely to have a new format with the Covid-19 pandemic and limited window demanding changes in the traditional arrangement. The start of the Ranji Trophy is likely to be between February 13 and 17 and the new format would also have mostly neutral venues but some teams could end up playing at home.
The nine identified cities will get to host their state sides and the decision has been taken to limit the travel requirements of as many teams as possible. By doing this, these sides may not have to take the flight and expose themselves to the vulnerability of health risk, thus curtailing the chances of Covid infection.
It has been learnt that there are two plans on the table for the consideration of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The tournament could kick off at nine different centres with groupings based on the Elite and Plate teams, a Cricbuzz report said.
As per one plan, the finalists will have a chance to play a maximum of eight matches, including three Super League games. The least performing sides - which could be 24 of them -- could end their campaign after just three matches. In another plan, the two most successful states can get up to a maximum of seven games with only three for the 16 sides at the other extreme.
The broad contours of the suggested plans are of eight groups of four teams in the Elite Division and six teams clubbed together in one Plate Division.
Notably, the previously circulated groupings for this year's championship had 30 Elite and eight Plate teams originally. The latest plan takes two teams away from the Plate Division -- likely to be Chandigarh and Bihar, and expands the Elite Division to 32.
Super League or Pre-quarters?
The report further said that the 32 Elite teams would be divided into eight groups of four sides and the Plate Group will remain a six-team affair.
The top side from each Elite group progresses to the next stage which could be a Super League among the eight toppers, who would be divided into two further clusters of four sides each. From the Super League, two sides from each cluster qualify for the semi=finals and finally the final, after playing three further league matches each in their respective groups in the second stage.
On the other hand, the BCCI is also contemplating having two Elite sides from a group qualifying for the last 16, the pre-quarterfinals stage, from where the knockouts would begin. The Plate teams, unlike before, will not have a shot at the title. They will have five league games each and there ends their campaign with an incentive of promotion to the Elite Division for two teams next year.
Recently, the BCCI secretary Jay Shah said the board will hold the Ranji Trophy in two phases on either side of the IPL. The plan between the board and state officials is under consideration and the schedule is expected to be made public on Monday.