The inaugural Bengal T20 Challenge, starting at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday amid bio-bubble protocol for the six participating teams, has brought joy and relief to the state’s cricket fraternity in the pandemic-hit season.

Mohun Bagan will take on Calcutta Customs Club at 4 p.m., while Town Club will meet Kalighat Club at 8 p.m. on the opening day.

Each team will meet an opponent twice in a round robin format before the top four make it to the semifinals on December 8, followed by the final on December 9.

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The much-anticipated meetings of arch-rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will take place at 4 p.m. on November 28 and December 6.

Following an unprecedented period of eight months devoid of any cricketing action, several top Bengal players – including Manoj Tiwary, Shreevats Goswami, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anustup Majumdar, Arnab Nandi, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep and Pradipta Pramanik – will be seen in action along with some exciting young talent.

However, a few players, including prominent names Abhimanyu Easwaran and Abhishek Raman, are likely to miss the whole tournament due to COVID-19 infections. They have been replaced by stand-bys.

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Nevertheless, a fine mix of youth and experience in each side may produce some keen contests.

“We have been waiting patiently for the resumption of cricket. It’s good to start with such an exciting tournament,” said Majumdar.

The tournament, which is being held ahead of any Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) domestic event in the country and the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) mega auction, will give the cricketers a good platform to make their mark.

“We will carry the confidence from here to the (National) domestic season,” said Shahbaz.