The 2021-22 season of the Ranji Trophy started yesterday and the BCCI permitted a squad size of 30 players, with a minimum of 20 players and a support staff of 10 individuals. Finally the domestic season of Indian Test cricket is back on, after threats to its occurrence this year, due to the pandemic and the extended IPL season.
The local competition was originally set to begin last month, but the sudden increase of Covid-19 cases throughout the nation and among the players sparked widespread fear. This had prompted some serious action from the BCCI and they decided to postpone the event. Google cricket was talking about this news for quite some now, though cooler heads have now prevailed.
However, the situation in the nation has improved, and the BCCI has been forced to make tough decisions to fit in the Ranji competition before the start of the IPL, which was always going to be challenging. This was the first time the tournament had been held in two years, and the state organisations were eager to get the season back on track this time around. As a consequence, the BCCI will organise that event in nine separate bio bubbles and two stages, one before the IPL and one after the IPL, respectively. The cities of Rajkot, Cuttack, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi, Haryana, Guwahati, and Kolkata have been identified as the locations.
The BCCI has issued rules to the state organisations, and it has said that players would be subject to a five-day quarantine. Additionally, according to the release, 20 players will be eligible for match fees (Playing XI will be eligible for 100 percent while the remaining 9 will be entitled to 50 percent). There will be a maximum of two COVID reserves per side, allowing for a sufficient number of players to be pulled from the squad if any players test positive for Covid-19.
Pujara and Rahane have both been named to their respective state Ranji Trophy teams
Between now and the start of the Ranji season, India Test stalwarts Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have joined their respective state teams. Pujara has been selected to the 21-member Saurashtra team captained by Jaydev Unadkat, while Rahane has been named to the Mumbai side under the captaincy of Prithvi Shaw.
Both of these teams have been drawn together in the same group and will face off against each other in the first match of the competition. Everyone will congregate in their respective venues on February 10, and RT-PCR tests will be conducted on days two and five, leaving teams with two days for practice on February 15 and 16. As previously announced, the second round of the Ranji Trophy, which will include the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final, will begin on May 30.
What does this mean for the careers of these two veteran stars for Team India?
The selectors and the BCCI officials, along with the Indian team management will be monitoring the situation of these two stars. Some of the fans may still feel that if they perform well in the domestic circuit, a potential return to the Test format could still happen just to stabilize the sinking ship. Keeping that in mind, the players will want to produce something special to remind the Indian fans that they still got it.
It will not be easy for them to come back into the team at this age but anything can happen in the game of cricket. The best thing that these two stars could be hoping for is that they make some sort of a serious impact with the limited opportunities that might come their way at present.
However, the duo will have to do everything in their power to make an instant impact, with Pujara not even sold in the IPL 2022 auction. On the other hand, Rahane was lucky enough to be picked by KKR, though it is still not certain what his overall role in the shorter format of the game might be.
Keeping that in mind, the domestic Ranji season could be their last-ditch opportunity to make a name for themselves and regain any lost confidence of the fans and the team management. Let’s wait and watch how things plan out now!!