Manipur set to make debut in Ranji Trophy

IMPHAL,24th July: A revamped BCCI’s domestic season for 2018-19 will see Manipur among the nine newly added teams for Ranji Trophy which begins in November. Altogether 37 teams are participating across formats for the senior men this season after the reintroduced of the Elite-Plate format. The nine new teams – Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand – will form the plate group.

While informing about the new teams for Plate group, Rajib Datta, NADP member (BCCI), said the Luwangpokba Cricket Stadium would soon be ready for hosting major BCCI tournaments after submission of his report and further funding under the New Area Development Programme (NADP). Datta, who left Imphal on Tuesday, was on a two-day visit to the city to take stock of MCA’s preparation for hosting BCCI’s tournaments. He also assured of other cricket facilities including indoor stadium for practice during a press conference which was also attended by MCA president RK Imo and other MCA officials.

The Ranji Trophy returns to the Elite-Plate format with the nine newly added teams while the existing 28 are divided into three elite groups A, B and C after the BCCI has reverted to the structure adopted for the 2016-17 season. The competition will begin on November 1, with the league stage ending on January 10. The quarter-finals will begin on January 15, with the final to take place from February 2 to 6. The Irani Cup will then begin from February 11.

Table-toppers of the Plate division will not only qualify for the quarterfinals but also be promoted to Elite Group C for the next season. Likewise, the top-two teams that qualify for the quarterfinals from Elite Group C will earn a promotion to nine-member Elite Groups A and B in the next season. The Ranji Trophy knockouts begin from January 15. The one-off Irani Trophy match will see Ranji Trophy 2018-19 winners take on Rest of India squad in a five-day game beginning February 11.

The 2018-19 domestic season though gets underway on August 17 with Duleep Trophy to be played in four-day format. It remains to be seen if the Indian board is keen on continuing with the pink-ball experiment in this four-team competition, like it has been the case in the last two seasons.The Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will also be a 37-team affair. The one-day competition kickstarts September 19 while the T20 competition, starting February 21, will provide players the platform to prepare for IPL 2019 that starts in the last week of March.

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