The international cricket may have resumed around the world, and the Indian team has also travelled to Australia for a full-fledged tour. However, the domestic season, conducted by the BCCI is yet to kick-start in India. High profile tournaments like the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) don’t have any confirmed dates hitherto.
The SMAT, which is a major domestic T20 tournament in India, is believed to start on 20th December, even though the venues have not been finalised. In the latest news, the top six sides – Karnataka, Saurashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Odisha, and Meghalaya – have demanded the BCCI to shift the tournament to January as they would have lesser time for preparations.
“Karnataka, Saurashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Odisha, and Meghalaya have all written to BCCI that they would like the Mushtaq Ali to be held in January,” an anonymous senior BCCI official told PTI.
The BCCI has provided four options to the teams in which they are asked to choose the domestic tournaments they want to play. The options are either to hold only the Ranji Trophy or only the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy or either a combination of Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy or having SMAT with Ranji Trophy.
As per the BCCI, the Mushtaq Ali tournament will need 22 days while Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare will require 67 and 28 days respectively. Karnataka under Manish Pandey won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last season, and Jaydev Unadkat’s Saurashtra is the Ranji Trophy champions the previous season.
BCCI wants to conduct SMAT before the IPL auction
The BCCI conducted the IPL smoothly and successfully in the UAE a month ago as cricket resumed in the pandemic era. It was a challenging task for the governing body to keep hundreds of players and staff in the bio-bubble for six weeks. Once the tournament began, no breaches of covid-19 protocols were found.
After the completion of the IPL, BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly had hinted that they are planning to organize the next IPL season by April, and that too in India. There are also huge speculations about two new teams to be added for the next season.
With the IPL auctions – which again is speculated to be a mega auction as the addition of new teams would require – expected to happen by the end of January, the BCCI wants the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to commence as soon as possible.
The domestic T20 tournament has helped the franchises unearth some talented cricketers over the years. For example, youngsters Devdutt Padikkal and Rututraj Gaikwad were the top two leading run-scorer in the tournament last year.