2018/19 Ranji Trophy groups announced
Contesting teams are divided into four groups for the 2018/19 season of Ranji Trophy. While Elite A and Elite B contain nine teams each, Elite C comprises ten teams. The solitary Plate Group includes nine sides too.
The upcoming Ranji Trophy season is set to begin on November 1 and will run until February 6 next year. The total number of participating sides has been increased to 37.
The 2017/18 Ranji Trophy season saw 28 teams vying for the title. They were divided into four groups as well. The top two sides in each group qualified for the quarter-finals. Eventually, Vidarbha lifted the prestigious trophy by defeating Delhi by nine wickets in the final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
The addition of nine more teams sees the tournament expand further in the forthcoming season of India's premier domestic tournament. As a consequence, the hectic schedule should challenge both physical endurance and mental strength of the competing players.
Unlike in the recent past, the return of the Ranji Trophy format to Elite and Plate categories has attracted stringent criticism from various quarters.
All nine new teams have been slotted in the Plate Group. Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pudhucherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand will make their Ranji Trophy debut in the 2018/19 season. On the other hand, Bihar will return to action after 15 years.
Defending champions Vidarbha lead a strong Group A which also contains heavyweights Karnataka and Mumbai. Delhi, Punjab and Tamil Nadu headline the Group B. The relatively lower-ranked teams in the circuit form the Group C.
This time around, five combined teams from Group A and Group B will qualify for the quarter-finals. Two teams from Group C and one team from the Plate Group will join those five sides in the knockout stages.
The winner of the Plate Group will be promoted to Group C in the next season while the bottom-placed team of the latter will be demoted. The top two sides in Group C will swap places with the bottom-placed team of Group A and B in the subsequent edition.
Elite Group A
Baroda, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Railways, Saurashtra and Vidarbha
Elite Group B
Delhi, Bengal, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Hyderabad, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
Elite Group C
Assam, Goa, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Odisha, Services, Rajasthan, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh
Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pudhucherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.