Into its 84th edition now, the Ranji Trophy is India’s premier first-class competition which acts as the passage to the Indian Premier League and the national cricket team. 28 teams which are divided into four groups of seven teams will compete in the tournament in which four-day Tests are played in the Round-Robin format. A total of 91 games will be played during the four months of the tournament. The most well-known teams are Mumbai (they have won the most number of titles – 41), Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Named after Ranjitsinhji, who was first Indian cricketer to have played for England and Sussex, the coveted tournament began in 1934-35. Back then, it was known as 'The Cricket Championship of India’ but was later renamed. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala donated the trophy for the tournament. The first edition of the competition was won by Bombay.
Group A: Karnataka, Delhi, Assam, Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, Railways
Group B: Jharkhand, Gujarat, Kerala, Saurashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir
Group C: Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Baroda, Tripura
Group D: Himachal Pradesh, Vidarbha, Punjab, Bengal, Services, Goa, Chhattisgarh
The top two from each group will proceed to the quarter-finals.
Group B is dubbed as the group of death featuring defending champions Gujarat along with semi-finalist from last year Jharkhand and quarter-finalists Haryana. The other teams in the pool are heavyweights such as Saurashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.
The group stage matches are set to commence from October 6th. The knockout stages will start from the first week of December after the league stages end on last week of November. While, the semi-finals are scheduled to take place on December 17 and the final will be played on December 29.
Last year, the neutral venue concept was introduced in the tournament, which meant that two teams played at a neutral venue which was neither of the two’s home ground. For example, Mumbai and Delhi could play at Bengal. However, the BCCI Technical Committee has done away with the neutral venue concept for this year since it was argued that it caused dwindling attendances. But the knock-out stages will still be played at neutral venues.
Some of the star India international players that will play this year’s Ranji Trophy are Ravichandran Ashwin, Murali Vijay, Mohammed Shami, Wriddhiman Saha and Suresh Raina.