It’s for the first time. Yes, First-class cricket during monsoon. This could soon become a reality as BCCI is all set to host a new-look, four-team Duleep Trophy in the third or last week of August, a source close to BCCI revealed. This year’s tournament reflects extra significance as the board will be testing the highly controversial pink ball for the first time.
BCCI likes to complete the experimental tournament before the home Test series against New Zealand begins, sources said. The Duleep Trophy, which was scrapped by the board last year to concentrate more on Twenty20 cricket, has been revived this year after it was decided that pink ball would be used in this tournament with a new four-team format, instead of five zonal teams.
Not only that, BCCI is also expecting top Indian cricketers to take part in the tournament to help assess the pink ball’s viability, after they return from the West Indies tour which gets over on August 22.
The most significant part is, if BCCI delays this domestic tournament, it could also hinder the two-week mini-IPL in September. The home Test series against New Zealand also starts in the last week of September.
As the schedule gets tricky, some board officials are now questioning about the relevance of the revived Duleep Trophy during rainy season. “We understand that there is a tight schedule. But what is the point of having a tournament just for the sake of it?” a senior functionary raises the question. BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke couldn’t be reached for any comment.
With the board still being confused about the venues for this tournament, there is still no such clarity on which zone will actually organize the event. It was also learnt that the board is trying to shortlist at least two venues for the event. If the tournament is played on knockout basis, it would still take almost 13 days to complete.
While BCCI wants to host Duleep Trophy to continue experimenting on the pink ball, question mark looms large over the future of the tournament.