The BCCI has announced the much-awaited groups for the men’s Ranji Trophy 2021-22 season which will start on January 5 next year. The blue riband championship couldn’t go ahead in 2020 due to the logistical challenges put up by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, heavyweights Mumbai, Delhi and Karnataka find themselves clubbed together in Elite Group C, setting up an exhilirating battle between the three most successful teams. Along with them will be Hyderabad, Maharashtra and Uttrakhand.
Defending champions Saurashtra are in a relatively easy lot. They will be joined by Railways, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa and Jharkhand in Elite Group D. Meanwhile, the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 season’s runners-up, Bengal, will lead Elite Group B with Vidarbha, Haryana, Kerala, Tripura and Rajashtan alongside them.
Elite Group A comprises Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Services and Assam. Elite Group E includes Andhra, Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Odisha, Chhatisgarh and Pondicherry. Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Bihar, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh will form the Plate Group.
The winners of each Elite Group will make it directly to the quarter-finals of Ranji Trophy 2021-22. The second-placed team from each Elite Group will vie with the winner of the Plate Group in pre-quarter finals to choose three winners for the quarters.
Kolkata to host Ranji Trophy 2021-22 final
Kolkata’s famed Eden Gardens will host all knockouts for the Ranji Trophy season, including the final on March 16-20. Apart from that, six cities will host the matches – Mumbai (Elite A), Kolkata (Elite B), Bengaluru (Elite C), Ahmedabad (Elite D), Trivandrum (Elite E) and Chennai (Plate).
News agency ANI recently reported that each squad will comprise a maximum of 30 members. Out of this there will have to be a minimum of 20 players and the rest the support staff. The support staff will also include a team physician to manage COVID-19 related issues.