The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed that two Irani Cup fixtures will be held this season. While Saurashtra, the Ranji Trophy champion of 2019-20 season, will play the Rest of India in Rajkot from October 1 to 5, Madhya Pradesh - the 2021-22 season’s Ranji Trophy winner - will play its Irani Cup fixture from March 1-5 in Indore.
“Saurashtra won the Ranji Trophy title in 2019-20 season, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, so now that the Irani Cup is returning after a hiatus, the Board decided to start the tournament with Saurashtra taking on the Rest of India,” a BCCI insider said.
In 2019-20 season, Rajkot could not host the Irani Cup despite Saurashtra winning the Ranji Trophy as the season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email to the state associations, the BCCI has informed that the league stage fixtures of Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 will be played in Lucknow, Indore, Rajkot, Punjab and Jaipur from October 11-22, while Kolkata will host the knockouts from October 30 to November 5.
The group league fixtures of Vijay Hazare Trophy will be played from November 12 to 23 in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Ranchi. Ahmedabad will host the knockouts from November 26-December 2.
Ranji Trophy from December 13
The Ranji Trophy will be played in a home and away format from December 13. This time, the Board has decided to split the tournament into two categories - elite and plate. The elite group tournament will run from December 13 to February 20, 2023, following the conclusion of the white-ball events.
The plate group, however, will conclude on January 29.
Unlike the previous editions where all 38 teams would compete for the same trophy, the upcoming domestic season will consist of two Ranji Trophy winners. The Board insiders admit that it has been done to minimise the prospect of mismatches at the knockouts.
“We decided to go back to the home and away format after two seasons. Now things are back to normal and it is important that we have games across the country and not just restrict the tournament to just two or three venues,” a BCCI official said.
The state associations have already been informed to get things in order and start preparing for a full-fledged domestic season.
DRS to be back?
While there is no official confirmation yet, Board insiders suggest that the Decision Review System could be brought back for the matches which will be televised or live-streamed.
It was also discussed in the last apex council meeting on July 21.
In the final of the Ranji Trophy this year, a few umpiring howlers had raised questions on why there was no DRS in place. Earlier, the Board had introduced partial DRS for Ranji Trophy knockouts, but it wasn’t there for the 2021-22 season.