The 2012-13 domestic season will begin with the Irani Cup in Jaipur, between September 21-25. The revamped Ranji Trophy will start on November 2, with the knockouts scheduled for January 2013. The top three teams from Group A and B, and the top two from Group C, will qualify for the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy.
The Irani Cup will be followed by the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, a limited-overs tournament involving Bengal - the winners of the Vijay Hazare Trophy last season - and two other teams, and the inter-zonal Duleep Trophy, in October.
Twenty-seven Ranji teams have been divided into three groups of nine each. Defending champions Rajasthan are part of Group A, together with three other teams - Mumbai, Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh - who qualified for the knockouts the previous season. Group B includes the runners-up Tamil Nadu, as well as Haryana, Maharashtra and Karnataka who made it to the knockouts last year. Each of the nine teams in Group C played in the Plate League last year.
"The initial plan was to have the top teams in one group but we decided to divide them to have two groups of more or less equal strength," Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the BCCI, told ESPNcricinfo. "We put those semi-finalists who didn't play each other last season in one group this time." Rajasthan and Haryana, who played the first semi-final last season, are in different groups, so are Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.
The selection for the other two teams of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, Shetty added, will be held roughly a week before the competition.
From next year onwards, the Irani Cup will be played after the Ranji Trophy.
The season will end with the remaining limited-overs tournaments: the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy and finally, the Twenty20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The decision to adopt the current format for the domestic season was taken by the BCCI's working committee earlier this month, together with the approval to allow two bouncers an over in limited-overs matches and permit one bowler to bowl a maximum of 12 overs in a 50-over game. The proposals to tweak the rules and the format were made by the BCCI's technical committee, headed by Sourav Ganguly, earlier in the year.