The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) plans to start the Ranji Trophy by February 13 and there won't be any changes in the format. The elite teams will be divided in five groups, featuring six teams each, while the Plate group will have eight teams

The Board president Sourav Ganguly told  Sportstar:  “We want to start the Ranji Trophy by mid-February, by the 13th. As of now, we are looking at a normal Ranji Trophy format, where we will have six groups, six teams in each group, and five matches. That will take us one month to finish the first phase, just before the IPL.”

With the IPL set to begin on March 27, the Board will conduct the knockouts stage of the tournament in June-July. “So far, the format remains same, unless COVID-19 interferes again. But we will look at the venues. We will also look at the number of COVID-19 cases in those venues. At this moment, centres like Bengaluru and Kerala have a lot of COVID-19 cases. We will discuss everything and can get a clear picture by tomorrow or Monday,” the former India captain said.

READ: Ranji Trophy to be held in two phases - BCCI

The tournament was scheduled to be earlier held in six centres – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, and Chennai. Kolkata was scheduled to host the knockouts.

The BCCI is also braced for the challenges of hosting the knockout rounds during the monsoons in June-July. “We might (have to take the knockouts) to Bengaluru at that time. Let’s see, but we will be able to give a clear picture in the next three or four days,” Ganguly said.

The Ranji Trophy, initially scheduled to begin on January 13, was postponed because of the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country. Several other tournaments – including the women’s tournament and the knockouts of the Cooch Behar Trophy – were put on hold. But Ganguly is optimistic about holding those tournaments too.

The BCCI secretary Jay Shah had earlier written to the state units, thanking them for their support. In his letter, the secretary said the Board “is working closely to mitigate any kind of health risk caused by the pandemic, while at the same time ensuring a highly competitive red-ball cricket contest.”