Ranji season to begin on November 3
The 2008-09 domestic season will commence on September 15 with the Mohammad Nissar Trophy. Delhi, the current Ranji Trophy champions, will clash with Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, winners of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier domestic competition, at home.
The Ranji season will take off on November 3, with the knockouts beginning on December 23 and the final slated for January 7.
This season sees a new format for the Ranji Trophy with a quarter-final stage where the top two teams from the Plate division join the top three teams from the Elite A and B groups. The change, aimed at a more level playing field, is based on the recommendation of the BCCI's technical committee, chaired by Sunil Gavaskar.
"[The move] was created to allow more chances to deserving players and teams from the Plate division and in effect make the Ranji Trophy a more open tournament", BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah told Cricinfo. He added that the existing system of relegating the bottom two teams from the Elite groups and the promotion of the top two from the Plate division remains in place.
The Irani Trophy will be played in Baroda from October 1-5 between Delhi and the Rest of India followed by the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, from October 23 to 26, in Cuttack.
Meanwhile, women's cricket is set to get a boost with the inaugural Challenger Trophy scheduled from September 21-24. In a move to boost preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup next summer, the board has decided to start a women's Twenty20 league, which will be played from April 11-17 followed by the knockout from April 21-27. The men's inter-state Twenty20 is back on the domestic calendar after being omitted last season.
Domestic Calendar ready reckoner
September 15-18 Mohammad Nissar Trophy in New Delhi
October 1-5 Irani Trophy in Vadodara
October 23-26 NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in Cuttack
November 3 Ranji Trophy Round One begins
December 23-26 Ranji Trophy quarter-finals
December 30-January 2, 2009 Ranji Trophy semi-finals
January 7-11 Ranji Trophy finals
January 16-February 10 Duleep Trophy
February 15-22 Ranji Trophy ODI zonal league
February 28-March 9 Vijay Hazare Trophy (Ranji Trophy ODI knockout)
March 14-18 Deodhar Trophy
March 23-28 Zonal Twenty20
April 2-8 Twenty20 Super League
April 10-May 24 IPL
October 1 onwards CK Nayudu Trophy (Under-22 level)
October 1 onwards Vijay Merchant Trophy & Polly Umiragar Trophy (Under-16 level)
October 20 onwards Cooch Behar & Vinoo Mankad Trophy (Under-19 level)
September 21-24 Challenger Trophy (venue undecided)
November 20 One-day league
January 2, 2009 Two-day league
April 11-17 Twenty20 League
April 21-27 Twenty20 knockout
October 10 Under-19 ODIs
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo