The Indian cricket board on Monday put its seal on restructuring domestic cricket as recommended by its technical committee headed by Sourav Ganguly.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) working committee at its meeting in New Delhi accepted the recommendations of the technical committee, which co-opted former India captain Anil Kumble, and decided to revamp the Ranji Trophy championship a second time in a decade.
The committee's recommendation that the season should kick off with the Duleep Trophy has been accepted.
The Ranji Trophy will have three groups of nine teams each and all the 27 teams will get to play eight matches each.
For all practical purposes, Group A and Group B will have the elite status as the teams finishing last in the two groups will be relegated to Group C from where the top two teams will be promoted.
Groups A and B will every year undergo changes on the basis of their points in the previous season.
The champions will remain in A and the runners-up will go to Group B. The two semi-finalists will also go to different groups and the rest of the teams will be divided on the basis of their points.
Group C will, however, remain as it is and they will be joined by the two relegated teams.
In 2002-03, the zonal system was scrapped and the teams were divided in to Elite and Plate divisions. The Elite was divided into two groups. Six teams from the Elite Group and two from the Plate qualified for the knockout round.
The teams will play four of their league games at home and four away.
The knockout round matches will be of five days each and extra day can be used to get an outright result.
There is a modification in the points system, too. Now an outright wins fetches a team six points instead of five.
Bowlers will be permitted to bowl two bouncers an over in the longer duration games. In the limited-overs matches, one bowler will be allowed to bowl 12 overs.
The working committee also agreed to include the winner of the limited-overs Vijay Hazare Trophy in the three-team NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. That leaves only two teams picked by the national selectors in the tournament.
The Under-22 inter-state tournaments will now be played between the A teams of the states and the eligibility age has been raised from 22 to 25.