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The Irani Cup is back for the first time in more than three years, with 2019-20 Ranji Trophy champions Saurashtra set to host Rest of India in Rajkot from October 1 to 5.
Saurashtra had won the Ranji final in March 2020, beating Bengal on the basis of their first-innings lead. The champions were due to play the Irani Cup a week later, but that tournament had to be called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the pandemic continuing to sweep India, there was no red-ball domestic cricket in the 2020-21 season. The Ranji Trophy returned in the 2021-22 season, with Madhya Pradesh winning the title after beating Mumbai by six wickets in the final in June.
The BCCI has now given Saurashtra a belated chance to test itself against the best first-class players in the country. It is not yet clear when MP, the current Ranji champions, will get to contest the Irani Cup.
"It is very heartening that Domestic Season 2022-23 of BCCI are to be played in full swing and Irani Cup is to be played after two long years," a Saurashtra Cricket Association statement said. "With good representation of Mr. Jaydev Shah, President, Saurashtra Cricket Association, BCCI has kindly considered to play Irani Cup in earlier format, i.e. Irani Cup used to be played between Ranji Trophy champion of previous year vs Rest of India.
"Saurashtra Cricket Association sincerely thank Shri Jaybhai Shah, Hon. Secretary, BCCI and all at BCCI for kindly considering Saurashtra Cricket Association's request to host and play prestigious Irani Cup 2022."
The most recent edition of the Irani Cup was held in February 2019, when Vidarbha beat Rest of India on the basis of first-innings lead in Nagpur.