The upcoming edition of the coveted Ranji Trophy will start on January 5 and run until March 20, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has issued a new itinerary on Thursday, August 19.

As per the previous schedule released by the Indian cricket board, the Ranji Trophy was scheduled to be held between November 16 and February 19. However, the BCCI has decided to postpone the Indian domestic first-class cricket championship in order to give more time to the 38 participating teams to prepare for red-ball cricket.

"The BCCI is working very closely with the government of India, state regulatory authorities, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that our sport achieves a collaborative solution. With this, there is a combined objective for a complete BCCI domestic cricket season 2021-22 to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a letter to state bodies.

“The restart date for BCCI domestic cricket season 2021-22 has been reviewed with all stakeholders, as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time. The BCCI will proceed with the full season of domestic cricket starting with Under-19 tournaments (both categories) in September 2021,” he added.

The Ranji Trophy returns to the domestic calendar after the 2020-21 season was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country.

As many as 177 matches will be played in the Ranji Trophy 2021-22 season scheduled in a three-month window.

Currently, the Ranji Trophy consists of 38 teams from 28 states in India and four of the eight union territories having a minimum of one representation. As has been the norm in the previous two editions, there will be three Elite Groups - A, B and C and a Plate Group. While Group A and B have nine teams each, Group C and the Plate Group include 10 teams each in the competition. 

Saurashtra will head into the new Ranji Trophy season as the defending champions having defeated Bengal by a first-innings lead to secure their maiden title in the 2019-20 campaign.

Earlier on July 3, the Indian cricket board had announced that a total of 2,127 domestic games will be played in the 2021-22 season starting with the Senior Women's One Day League, followed by the Senior Women's One Day Challenger Trophy. It also comprises the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and other domestic tournaments across various age groups in the men’s and women’s categories.

However, due to the jam-packed calendar, BCCI has been forced to cancel the Irani Cup, Duleep Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy for the upcoming season.

Featured photo: Twitter/BCCIDomestic