The BCCI has announced the highly anticipated groups for the 2021-22 men’s Ranji Trophy season, which kicks off on January 5 next year. The Blue Riband Championship was canceled in 2020 due to the logistical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year heavyweights Mumbai, Delhi and Karnataka are teamed up in Elite Group C, where an exciting battle ensues between the three most successful teams. Along with them will be Hyderabad, Maharashtra and Uttrakhand.
Defending champion Saurashtra is in a relatively easy fate. They will be joined by Railways, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Goa and Jharkhand in Elite Group D. Meanwhile, the 2019-20 season runner-up of the Ranji Trophy, Bengal, will lead Elite Group B with Vidarbha, Haryana, Kerala, Tripura and Rajashtan next to them.
Elite Group A consists of 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 advance directly to the quarter-finals of 2021-22 Ranji Trophy. The second-placed team from each Elite Group will compete with the winner of the Plate Group in the pre-quarter finals to pick three winners for the quarters.
Kolkata to host the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy final
Kolkata’s famous Eden Gardens will host all the 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 squadron will consist of up to 30 members. Of these, there must be at least 20 players and the rest must be the support staff. The support staff will also include a team physician to treat COVID-19-related issues.