India's domestic season kicks off on Sept 21
New Delhi, Jul 20 : The 2012-13 domestic season will kick off with the Irani Cup in Jaipur from September 21-25 with the revamped Ranji Trophy to start on November 2 and the knockouts scheduled for January 2013.
The top three teams from Group A and B and the top two from Group C will qualify for the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy.
The Irani Cup will be followed by the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, a limited-overs tournament involving Bengal - the winners of the Vijay Hazare Trophy last season - and two other teams and the inter-zonal Duleep Trophy in October.
Twenty-seven Ranji teams have been divided into three groups of nine each.
Defending champions Rajasthan are part of Group A along with Mumbai, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, Saurashtra, Railways, Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat. Group B will feature Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka , Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Delhi, Vidarbha and Odisha. Making up Group C will be Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Services, Tripura, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam "The initial plan was to have the top teams in one group but we decided to divide them to have two groups of more or less equal strength," Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the BCCI was quoted as saying by 'cricinfo'.
"We put those semi-finalists who didn't play each other last season in one group this time. Rajasthan and Haryana, who played the first semi-final last season, are in different groups, so are Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.
"The selection for the other two teams of the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy will be held roughly a week before the competition," he added.
The Ranji Trophy with the limited-overs Corporate Trophy and another Irani Cup game, between this season's champions and Rest of India. From next year onwards, the Irani Cup will be played after the Ranji Trophy.
The season will end with the remaining limited-overs tournaments: the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy and finally, the Twenty20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The decision to adopt the current format for the domestic season was taken by the BCCI's working committee earlier this month, together with the approval to allow two bouncers an over in limited-overs matches and permit one bowler to bowl a maximum of 12 overs in a 50-over game.
The proposals to tweak the rules and the format were made by the BCCI's technical committee, headed by former skipper Sourav Ganguly, earlier in the year.