The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is contemplating a curtailed domestic season from November 19, 2020, to March 10, 2021, by staging only the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Ranji Trophy.
The 50-overs-a-side tournaments, Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Challengers Series, have been sacrificed – as reported by The Hindu last month – and do not find a place in the draft proposal prepared by the cricket operations department, in consultation with a private firm roped in to assist in the scheduling.
The Ranji Trophy is likely to start on December 13 with the league stage proposed to be a five-group affair. There will be four groups of eight teams each and a plate group featuring the six new sides from the north-east. While the top two teams from each of the first three groups will qualify for the knockouts, the remaining two knockouts qualifiers will be decided through a complex qualification formula.
Besides the 50-over tournaments, the proposed season doesn’t include either the Irani Cup tie or the Duleep Trophy. While the Duleep Trophy has lost much of its relevance after being converted into a three-squad affair with teams hand-picked by the national selectors, it will be interesting to see if the BCCI can accommodate the Irani Cup.
Interestingly, the Irani Cup was the only First Class game to be called off due to COVID-19 last season (March 18 to 22). It remains to be seen if Saurashtra, the Ranji Trophy champion, can take on the Rest of India in the likely window between the Mushtaq Ali and the Ranji trophies.