No foreign team will participate in the Duleep Trophy this season. The concept, first applied in the 2003-04 season, has seen England A (twice), Sri Lanka A, Zimbabwe President's XI and Bangladesh A compete in India's zonal first-class tournament.
With the Australian, New Zealand and South African domestic seasons clashing with that of India's, it was always going to be difficult for the BCCI to get foreign teams to play this year.
However, the board clarified that the unwillingness to come was not due to security issues. "There are no issues at all about security or anything like that," Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, told Cricinfo. "We have not got confirmations from any team, and that is why we decided to go ahead."
In the absence of a sixth team, this season's Duleep Trophy will be played on a knock-out basis. South Zone and Central Zone, the teams placed at the bottom of their respective groups last season, will play a qualifying match in Bangalore from January 22. The winner will take on defending champions North Zone in the first semi-final, while East Zone clash with West Zone in the second. The final, scheduled to begin on February 5, will be played in Chennai.
There was a slight change made to the Ranji Trophy schedule as well. With the Champions League postponed indefinitely, the BCCI has decided to give some more breathing space between the knockout matches.
There will be now a four-day gap between the last league match and the quarter-finals (as opposed to three days in the original schedule), and a six-day gap between quarter-finals and semi-finals (two days originally).
The venues for the quarter-finals and semi-finals were also finalised: Ahmedabad, Mumbai (Brabourne Stadium), Vadodara and Bangalore will host the quarter-finals, while the semi-finals will be played in Chennai and Nagpur. The venue for the final, which will now start on January 12 as opposed to January 7, is yet to be decided.