Ranji Trophy is a domestic competition that is played between the top state cricket board teams of the country. The tournament has a rich history of bringing out the best players which end up representing the country on an international level. This premier first-class tournament is played between teams that represent regional and state cricket associations.
In July 2018, the BCCI increased the total number of teams from 29 to 37, with the addition of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. Vidarbha are the defending champions of the tournament. This will be the 85th edition of this much-coveted tournament. The 2018-19 Ranji Trophy is set to start from 1 November 2018 to 7 February 2019.
The competition was launched in the year 1934, with the first fixtures taking place in the 1934-35 season. The tournament has never looked back since and has produced players that won laurels for the country on the international stage.
Mumbai (Bombay) had been the most successful side in the competition, winning the trophy 41 times including 15 back-to-back wins from 1958-59 to the 1972-73 season. Vidharbha is the current champion with the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy being their first victory.
The number of teams for this year has expanded from 28 teams to 37, making it the biggest Ranji Trophy tournament in terms of teams and matches. The competition will have four groups, with nine teams in both groups A and B, while ten teams in group C. The fourth group will be the Plate Group consisting of the teams that are added this year by the BCCI.
Five teams will qualify for the quarter-finals stage of the tournament from group A and B only, while the top two teams from group C will join them. The top team in the Plate Group will progress for the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Group A - Baroda, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Mumbai, railways, Saurashtra, and Vidarbha.
Group B - Andhra, Bengal, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Hyderabad, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu.
Group C - Assam, Goa, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Services, Tripura, and Uttar Pradesh.
Plate Group - Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.