The BCCI had earlier indicated that it would be difficult to run both the Vijay Hazare Trophy (ODI format) and the Ranji Trophy (four day format) in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BCCI started the 2021 domestic season with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament (T20 format).

The BCCI wanted to start out with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament to see if it could successfully host the tournament by creating a bio-bubble and keeping the players safe from COVID-19. The tournament went off well and recently concluded after Tamil Nadu beat Baroda in the final.

Vijay Hazare Trophy From Feb 18

The BCCI has now confirmed that it will proceed with the Vijay Hazare Trophy from Feb 18. While BCCI President Sourav Ganguly was keen to have the Ranji Trophy as well, the board decided that it was difficult to have red ball cricket as the coronavirus is still posing problems in India.Vijay Hazare

The BCCI had asked for a schedule of the Ranji Trophy to make an informed decision. The schedule showed that more than 70 playing days was required for the Ranji Trophy and only 34 for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Given the fact that the BCCI is looking to conduct the 2021 IPL in April, a decision was made to cancel the Raji Trophy.

The Vijay Hazare Trophy will once again be played in a bio-bubble. The current locations being discussed for the ODI tournament are Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Indore, Baroda and Kerala. The BCCI decided to leave out Chennai as they will be hosting two back to back test matches between India and England in February.

The BCCI is also looking to run an ODI tournament for women during the same period. Different locations will be used and the ones in consideration include Pune, Vijayawada and Hyderabad. A total of 38 ODI teams will take part in the men’s Ranji Trophy tournament and 37 teams will take part in the women’s ODI tournament.

The BCCI will continue to look for a few more venues that have good infrastructure so that bio-bubbles can be safely created and maintained. Chandigarh and Delhi have good stadiums but due to the on-going clash between the central government and the farmers, these venues are not being considered as of now.

Will The BCCI Allow Fans For These Games?

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) recently announced that it had received informal approval from the BCCI to allow fans for the second test match in Chennai between India and England. The BCCI has given the TNCA board permission to taken in 50 percent of fans for the test which starts on Feb 13.

This change in stance comes after the Indian Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports confirmed that outdoor sporting events can now take in spectators at full capacity. The last order from the Ministry was on Dec 26, 2020 when permission was given to take in spectators at 50 percent capacity only.

The BCCI is still going to play it safe for the second test match and take in only 50 percent of fans. If things go well, the third and fourth test matches in Ahmedabad might be played at full capacity. Do note that while the TNCA has provided this update, no formal communication has been released by the BCCI.

The BCCI might also consider giving approval to different state boards that are hosting the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The ticket sales will generate significant revenue for the boards and will also be a big relief to players who are tired of playing in front of empty seats. We will have to wait another week or so, to get more information.

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