India news July 20, 2015

BCCI splits Ranji Trophy stages in rejig

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Aakash Chopra: Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy getting the importance it deserves

Adhering to the demands made by the Ranji Trophy captains and coaches the BCCI has advanced the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy [domestic Twenty20 championship] before the IPL auction and changed the format of both its inter-state limited-overs championships from an intra-zonal-knockout format to a group-knockout league format.

Also, the senior domestic season will conclude with the Irani Cup from March 6 to 10, almost a month before last year owing to the World Twenty20, which is set to begin on March 11. The revised domestic schedule will result in a two-month gap between the league and knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy. In addition to that, the Duleep Trophy will not be held in the coming season.

Instead of attributing the change in calendar to make the Twenty20 tournament more relevant for IPL franchises and aspiring cricketers, the BCCI stated the revision was made keeping in mind the international calendar. A BCCI release stated, "the schedule has been planned keeping in view the forthcoming Under 19 World Cup and the ICC World T20, and with an intention to complete all our relevant domestic competitions well before the selection for these tournaments, and our players get an opportunity to participate and perform."

In the existing format of the limited-overs tournaments, the teams competed in zonal leagues before proceeding to national knockouts. The BCCI now has decided to divide the 27 participating teams into four groups based on their performance in the previous season. This will mean that teams are challenged to perform against opponents that are not familiar to them.

According to a BCCI statement, the Ranji Trophy league stage will be played from October 1 to December 4, followed by the Vijay Hazare Trophy from December 8 to 25.

After the New Year's break, a first after many years, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will be staged from January 2 to 20. The limited overs' segment will end with the Deodhar Trophy from January 24 to 28. The Ranji knockouts will then be played from February 3 to 28.

The BCCI, meanwhile, has introduced more tournaments for women and Under-19 cricketers. "A new Under-19 Challenger tournament has been introduced, which will feature three teams selected by the junior national selectors and provide yet another opportunity to all the players to perform before the national squad is selected for the Under-19 World Cup, to be played in Bangladesh in January," the release said.

"Two new tournaments are being introduced for women cricketers from this year, an Inter-state and then inter-zonal one-day Under-23 tournament and a three-day senior women inter-zonal tournament, which will provide more opportunities to our women cricketers."