Ranji Trophy league phase likely to take place from February 16 to March 5

Teams to be spread across nine venues: Chennai, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Rajkot, Cuttack, Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad.

Nagraj Gollapudi
Shams Mulani is mobbed by his team-mates, Tamil Nadu v Mumbai, Ranji Trophy 2019-20, Chennai

Domestic players will be set to have Ranji Trophy cricket after a long gap  •  PTI

The league phase of the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy is likely to be played between February 16 and March 5. As per the plan devised by BCCI, the 38 teams that take part in the Ranji Trophy are likely to be spread across nine shortlisted venues. These venues include: Chennai, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Rajkot, Cuttack, Guwahati, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
Keeping in mind the tight window in which it has to conduct the premier first-class tournament, the BCCI shortlisted venues with several grounds so that simultaneous matches could take place within a particular group.
More than one state association, which houses the shortlisted venue, confirmed that they had unofficially heard the BCCI planned to have four teams per venue in the Elite Group. It could not be confirmed whether the six teams in the Plate group would be housed in one venue or more. The state associations said they were expecting an official confirmation from BCCI imminently.
On January 27, BCCI secretary Jay Shah had confirmed that the board had decided to host the Ranji Trophy in two phases. While the league stage was set for February-March, the knockouts were slated for June, leaving the April-May window for IPL 2022.
The Ranji Trophy was originally scheduled to start on January 13, but had to be postponed indefinitely because of rising Covid-19 cases in India. When making the decision to hold the Ranji Trophy, Shah said that recovery rates from the third wave of the pandemic were encouraging, but the BCCI would continue to have biosecure bubbles for the tournament to mitigate any risks.
"Ever since the decision on postponement was made, the board was working on several models to ensure that the tournament takes place as soon as the environment is safe and conducive," Shah had written in a letter to state associations. "We will continue to have biosecure bubbles to mitigate any potential risk. The board is committed to providing a healthy and secure environment and seeks your support in ensuring a safe tournament for all our key stakeholders."

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo