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Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21: Teams divided into six groups, Ahmedabad to host knockouts

The league stage will be held in six biosecure venues: Bengaluru, Kolkata, Vadodara, Indore, Mumbai and Chennai

Karnataka won both the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies last season

Karnataka won both the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies last season  •  PTI

Ahmedabad will host the knockouts of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21, while Bengaluru, Kolkata, Vadodara, Indore, Mumbai and Chennai are the six biosecure hubs for group matches. The 38 teams are divided into five Elite groups and one Plate group, with defending champions Karnataka slotted in Elite group A and will play their matches in Bengaluru.
The teams are required to assemble in their respective host cities on or before January 2 and will undergo three rounds of Covid-19 tests - on January 2, 4 and 6 - before they can start training. There will be two more rounds of testing - on January 20 and 22 - before the knockouts.
The knockouts will be the first representative games in Ahmedabad in five years. The last international match played at Motera was the second game of the ODI series against Sri Lanka, in November 2014, and the last domestic match was an IPL game in 2015. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy games will be a dress rehearsal as the refurbished Motera Stadium will later stage the third and fourth Tests between India and England before hosting the five-match T20I series between the two teams.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the tournament will kick off on January 10, with the quarter-finals on January 26 and 27, the semi-finals on January 29, and the final on January 31.
Like Karnataka, most domestic heavyweights will play their games at home: Bengal in Kolkata (Elite group B), Gujarat and Baroda in Vadodara (Elite group C), Vidarbha in Indore (Elite group D) and Mumbai in Mumbai (Elite group E). However, the limited venues mean Tamil Nadu will have to play in Kolkata, Saurashtra in Indore and Delhi in Mumbai. Plate group teams - Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Bihar, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh - will play their games in Chennai.