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Indian domestic season 2020-21: Only Ranji Trophy, only Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 among four options

BCCI chalks out window between December 20-March 18 at six bio-secure hubs

Nagraj Gollapudi
Sheldon Jackson with the Ranji Trophy  •  Shashank Kishore/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Sheldon Jackson with the Ranji Trophy  •  Shashank Kishore/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Only Ranji Trophy. Only Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. Both Ranji Trophy and SMA T20s. Both SMA T20s and Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic 50-over tournament). Those are the four options the BCCI has given to the state associations to choose from to conduct the 2020-21 domestic season, which has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The states have been asked to submit their "inputs" by December 2.
In an email sent on Sunday, the BCCI also listed the windows for the various tournaments with the SMA T20s triggering the start of the proposed domestic season. The BCCI has listed December 20-January 10 as the window for the domestic T20s. The Ranji Trophy will span 67 days starting January 11 through March 18. The Vijay Hazare Trophy has been proposed between January 11 and February 7.
That the SMA T20s have been put as a priority is only because the 2021 IPL is scheduled to start between late March and early April. Also the BCCI is deliberating adding at least one more team to the IPL, which would mean a mega auction is likely in January.
In the email signed by board secretary Jay Shah on Sunday, the BCCI said that it would create six "bio-secure hubs" to counter the challenge of travel and logistics during the pandemic. "The 38 teams will be divided into 5 Elite groups and 1 Plate group. The Elite groups will consist of six teams each while the Plate group will have eight teams."
With India being among the most severely affected countries due to the pandemic, majority of sport has been disrupted and postponed. In normal course, the Indian domestic season usually starts by late September, but that was not possible this year as various state government hadn't yet opened up sporting activities.
In October, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had said that a tentative plan had been drawn up to conduct a truncated domestic season between January and March, 2021.
The announcement of three vaccines globally has injected confidence across board, but the BCCI on Sunday said it would continue to rely on the Indian government for advice.
"Establishing a structure for a new competition during a pandemic has provided specific challenges for domestic cricket, most notably having the required medical personnel in place to handle stringent return-to-play protocols."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo