A revamped Ranji Trophy competition will see 37 teams participate in the 2018-19 season, commencing November 1, BCCI announced on Wednesday (July 18). The competition returns to Elite-Plate format with the nine newly added teams – Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand – forming the plate group while the existing 28 be divided into three elite groups A, B and C.Table-toppers of the Plate division will not only qualify for the quarterfinals but also be promoted to Elite Group C for the next season. Likewise, the top-two teams that qualify for the quarterfinals from Elite Group C will earn a promotion to nine-member Elite Groups A and B in the next season.
The Ranji Trophy knockouts begin from January 15. The one-off Irani Trophy match will see Ranji Trophy 2018-19 winners take on Rest of India squad in a five-day game beginning February 11.
The 2018-19 domestic season though gets underway on August 17 with Duleep Trophy to be played in four-day format. It remains to be seen if the Indian board is keen on continuing with the pink-ball experiment in this four-team competition, like it has been the case in the last two seasons.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will also be a 37-team affair. The one-day competition kickstarts September 19 while the T20 competition, starting February 21, will provide players the platform to prepare for IPL 2019 that starts in the last week of March.
Women’s domestic season expandedThe BCCI has also expanded women’s domestic season, primarily by introducing a separate T20 and one-day Challenger Trophy in a season in both the senior women and Under-23 category – in addition to the existing T20 League and One-Day League. A similar T20 Challengers Trophy has been added to Women’s Under-19 domestic schedule.
With the 2018 Women’s World T20 scheduled to begin on November, the women’s domestic season commences with the three-team Senior Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy on August 13. In another first, the three teams will play each other twice in the league round before the top-two qualify for the final. The One-Day version of the same is scheduled to start January 4, 2019.