CHENNAI: The scale is tilting in favour of hosting a curtailed Ranji Trophy this season. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is looking to finalise it in the next couple of days. Although the Vijay Hazare meet was spoken of as a better option at the Apex Council meeting, the consensus hasn't been reached as yet and the support is only growing for the Ranji Trophy to be held.
One of the plans doing the rounds is to start it from February 17 with teams assembling in bio-bubbles 10 days prior. In all, the league phase of the tournament will take up 42 days, with each Elite group comprising six teams and Plate group making up eight sides. In all likelihood, the base, groupings and format of the Ranji Trophy will be the same as the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s. Even though state units are still awaiting confirmation, Bengal are starting their pre-season camp from Friday in Kolkata. Similarly, Karnataka are planning a camp.
While many expected the BCCI to finalise their choice much earlier, the board's effort to host the Ranji Trophy at any costs has ensured a delay. Hosting Vijay Hazare could be the easiest way out as it takes a lesser number of days and the senior men's season can be wrapped up before the IPL so that they can concentrate on having a full-fledged 2021/22 season.
Ranji, on the other hand, requires time. As reported previously, one of the options for the BCCI is to host the Ranji Trophy in two phases with the knockouts to be played after the IPL. Although some state units are against this idea as monsoon will set in by June, the BCCI believes it can host it in Chennai or Vizag. The other option in front of the BCCI is for the knockouts to overlap the IPL as not all players would be cup-tied.
But not many are considering this option as state units might have to sacrifice their best players.
With regards to the venues, all the cities that hosted the league stage of the Mushtaq Ali T20s will most likely host the Ranji Trophy with Chennai being the lone exception. Since the city is hosting India and England teams in a bio-secure bubble, which was also the base for eight teams during the T20 event, setting up another in the city simultaneously would be challenging. As a result, the chances of Plate group being played in a different city isn't being ruled out.