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BCCI unveils two-phased plan for Ranji Trophy

India's premier domestic competition returns after year-long hiatus; knockouts to be played post-IPL between May 30 and June 26

The victorious Saurashtra players, Saurashtra v Bengal, final, Ranji Trophy 2019-20, 5th day, Rajkot, March 13, 2020

Saurashtra are the defending champions of the Ranji Trophy  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The 2022 Ranji Trophy will be held over two phases, between February 10 and June 26, in nine venues across India.
The first phase of the tournament - the league stage - will feature 38 teams and 57 matches, between February 10 and March 15. The knockouts will be held after the conclusion of IPL 2022, and will have seven matches between May 30 and June 26.
In a letter sent to members of the board, BCCI secretary Jay Shah explained that the revised schedule was made to "mitigate any cross-transmission risk while also ensuring bio-secure bubbles are not overburdened."
Overall, the tournament will have 64 matches played in 62 days, with teams divided into nine groups - Eight Elite and one Plate. The Elite group will consist of four teams, and the Plate Group will have six teams. During the league phase, each team will play three matches; Elite teams will face all the other sides in their group, while the Plate teams will play only against three sides from theirs.
The BCCI also said that the top seven teams amongst the eight Elite Group toppers would qualify directly for the quarter-finals, while the lowest ranked team would play a pre-quarterfinal match against the Plate Group topper.
A BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo that the ranking order of the eight Elite Group toppers is likely to be decided based on points, followed by outright wins, followed by the quotient. It is likely that the quotient could be the determining factor in figuring out which team plays the pre-quarterfinal, since with only three games to be played, several teams could be tied on points and wins. The quotient is determined by dividing the team's batting average by their bowling average. A higher number is better.*
The pre-quarterfinal will be played during the league phase, which will end before the start of the IPL on March 27.
The Elite Group matches will be held across Rajkot, Cuttack, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Delhi, Haryana and Guwahati, while all the Plate matches will take place in Kolkata.
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 bio-secure 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 bio-secure 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."
Last season, the pandemic played spoilsport as the BCCI only held the two men's white-ball tournaments - the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. As a result, the BCCI paid 50% of the earlier match fees as compensation to all first-class cricketers who had endured financial losses.
*This copy was amended to include the ranking criteria for the Elite Group teams at 4.00pm GMT.