New Delhi: Defending champions Rajasthan and 39-time champions Mumbai have been clubbed in a relative easy Group A for the upcoming Ranji Trophy starting on November 2.
As announced earlier, the season will start with Ranji Champions Rajasthan taking on Rest of India in an Irani Trophy match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur from September 21-25.
National ODI champions Bengal will be making their debut in the NKP Salve Challenge Series by virtue of winning Vijay Hazare Trophy.
According to a press release issued by the BCCI, Group A which consists of Rajasthan and Mumbai is easier among the two groups containing erstwhile Elite teams. Bengal, Hyderabad, Saurashtra, MP, Railways, Punjab and Gujarat are the seven other teams in group A.
The `Group of Death` certainly is group B which has four top teams in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka along with Baroda and last year`s semi-finalists Haryana. Maharashtra and Vidarbha who were in Plate Group last year has been elevated to Group B. Odisha, although were wooden spooners in the group league stage of last year`s Elite league are in the same group.
The Group C consists of all Plate Group teams. As per new rule, three teams each from Group A and B along with two teams from Group C will make it to the knock-out stage due to be played in January 2013.
The Raj Singh Dungarpur Corporate Trophy will be played after Ranji Trophy final unlike earlier years when it used to be season opening tournament.
The season will end with the limited-overs tournaments -- the inter-state One-Day, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, and finally, the inter-state T20 League and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Group A: (1) Rajasthan (2) Mumbai (3) Hyderabad (4) Madhya Pradesh (5) Saurashtra (6) Railways (7) Bengal (8) Punjab (9) Gujarat
Group B: (1) Tamil Nadu (2) Haryana (3) Maharashtra (4) Karnataka (5) Uttar Pradesh (6) Baroda (7) Delhi (8) Vidarbha (9) Odisha
Group C: - (1) Himachal Pradesh (2) Kerala (3) Andhra Pradesh (4) Services (5) Tripura (6) Goa (7) Jharkhand (8) Jammu & Kashmir (9) Assam.