The BCCI on Saturday (July 3) announced full calendar for the Indian domestic season 2021-22, with the return of Ranji Trophy being the main highlight. The Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic first-class competition, will be back in action after being cancelled entirely last year due to complications borne out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 38-team event will be played in a three-month window from November 16, 2021 to February 19, 2022. The tournament will follow the same format as it has in its last two editions, with three Elite Groups and one Plate Group. While groups A and B of the event will comprise of nine teams each, there will be ten sides in Elite Group C and the Plate Group. Five teams from the combined A-B group, two teams from Group C and one from Plate Group will make the quarterfinals, which will be followed by the semis and the final.
The List A version of the state-based competition, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, which will be played from February 23 to March 26, will follow the same pattern. The men’s Indian domestic season will kick off, however, with the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 from October 20. The tournament will run till November 12 and have five groups – A, B, C, D and E – with the first two comprising of seven teams each and the rest featuring eight teams each.
There was no place for tournaments like Duleep, Deodhar and Irani Trophy even this time.
Senior Women’s One Day League to kickstart Indian domestic season for 2021-22
The women’s Indian domestic season will begin with the Senior Women’s One Day League on September 21, followed by the List A challenger Trophy from October 27 to 31 and the T20 league from March 19 to April 11. While Senior One Day League will see 37 teams divided into three Elite Groups of 9 teams each and one Plate Group of 10 sides, the T20 League will have seven teams each in groups A, B and C and eight in Group D and E. There will be as many as 306 matches played across the three tournaments.
The focus will again only be on the white-ball arena in the women’s calendar, with no first-class competition planned for the coming season as well. That, despite India just recently playing their first Test after a seven years gap and also set to travel to Australia for a D/N pink-ball encounter in September. There is also an air of uncertainty on the future of the Women’s T20 Challenge.
The Senior One Day League and the Challenger Trophy will attain greater importance since India are approaching close to the next year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand and will hope there is stiff competition for places in the national setup.
Coming back to the Ranji Trophy, the last season was the first time since its inception back in 1934-35 that the tournament couldn’t be held. It was played even during the years of World War II. Such are the complications in ensuring the safe organisation of the 38-team first-class event that the BCCI had no option but to cancel it. Only Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 and Vijay Hazare Trophy were possible in a curtailed Indian domestic season for 2020-21.
🚨 NEWS 🚨: BCCI announces India’s domestic season for 2021-22
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— BCCI (@BCCI) July 3, 2021
The threat still persists within the pandemic, but the Indian board is now more “confident of hosting the domestic season with health and safety of players and all people involved being paramount,” said board secretary Jay Shah.
A detailed itenerary for the Ranji Trophy, as well as other tournaments part of the Indian domestic season, is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.