Calcutta: Bengal have been clubbed with defending champions Rajasthan and 39-time winners Mumbai for the upcoming Ranji Trophy, starting on November 2.
Hyderabad, Saurashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Railways, Punjab and Gujarat are the other teams in Group A, according to a BCCI press release. Twenty-seven Ranji teams have been divided into three groups of nine each.
Group B includes Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka along with Baroda and Haryana. Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Odisha are also in the same group. Group C consists all the Plate Group teams.
As per the new rules, 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.
As announced earlier, the season will start with Rajasthan taking on Rest of India in an Irani Cup match at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur from September 21-25.
It will be followed by the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy and the Duleep Trophy, in October. National one-day champions Bengal will be making their debut in the NKP Salve Challenge Trophy by virtue of winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy last season.
The Ranji Trophy final will be followed by the Raj Singh Dungarpur Corporate Trophy and another Irani Cup game, between this season’s champions and Rest of India. From next year onwards, the Irani Cup will be played after the Ranji Trophy.
The season will end with the remaining limited-overs tournaments: the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy and finally, the Twenty20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Group A: Rajasthan, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh, Saurashtra, Railways, Bengal, Punjab, Gujarat.
Group B: Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Baroda, Delhi, Vidarbha, Odisha.
Group C: Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Services, Tripura, Goa, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam