After days of speculations and uncertainty, the plate group teams have finally something to look forward to. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to go ahead with a one-off qualifier in which the top-ranked team from the plate group squares off against the bottom-ranked Elite team for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Sources in the BCCI have confirmed to Sportstar that after three rounds of league matches, a total of nine teams - eight from elite and one from plate - will qualify for the knockouts.
When the second phase of the tournament begins post IPL in June-July, the bottom-ranked team from the elite group will lock horns with the top-ranked team from the plate group for a one-off qualifier. The winning team of the qualifier will reach the last-eight stage along with seven other teams.
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“After deliberation, we decided to have an extra round for the plate teams, so that they can have a chance to make it to the quarterfinals,” the source said.
The teams are expected to enter the bio-bubble by February 10 and then undergo a three-day quarantine. Once players test negative, they will be allowed to train on February 14 and 15.
Due to time constraint, the tournament will be held in two phases - before and after the IPL - and according to the new schedule, group league matches will be played in Chennai, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Vadodara, Rajkot, Cuttack, Guwahati, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
With the IPL scheduled to begin in Mumbai on March 27, the Board wanted to finish off the league stage latest by the first week of March, so that the players can join their respective IPL teams soon after the Ranji Trophy league stage.
The final schedule and groupings are expected to be announced on Thursday.
The likely format
- The tournament starts on February 16 with eight groups of four teams each. The plate group matches will be played simultaneously.
- After three rounds of league matches, a total of nine teams - eight from elite and one from plate - will qualify for the knock-outs.
- When the second phase of the tournament begins post IPL, the bottom-ranked team from the elite group will play the top-ranked team from the plate group for a one-off qualifier.
- The winning team of the qualifier will reach the last-eight stage along with seven other teams.
- The last-eight stage will be followed by the semifinal and final.
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