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The Ranji Trophy was launched following a meeting of the Indian board in July 1934 and the competition began the following season with the winners receiving a trophy donated by the Maharajah of Patiala. It was named after KS Ranjitsinhji, even though he barely played any of his cricket in the country.
The tournament format was knock-out rounds through to a timeless final. Such were the rules that draws were won by sides leading on the first innings, and many record scores resulted as sides opted to bat their opposition into the ground. Unlike other countries, World War Two did not disrupt the tournament and the 1940s were probably the heyday of the event with huge scores, record-breaking batting feats, and a flowering of Indian batting.
In 1957-58 after a spate of matches where sides with no chance of winning conceded, the rules were changed and zonal groups introduced. From 1956-57, Bombay established a remarkable stranglehold over the tournament, winning 15 straight titles and 18 in 19 years. It signaled a change in social balance from the old states to the new commercial capital. In the late 1960s the powerbase shifted south, largely because of the dominance of high-class spinners.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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