India's domestic season for 2018-19 is set to be its biggest ever, with 37 teams participating across formats for the senior men. The addition of nine new teams - six from the North East along with Puducherry, Bihar and Uttarakhand - has meant that there will be four groups in the Ranji Trophy, with the Elite and Plate Groups reintroduced.
The Elite Group will have Groups A and B with nine teams each, while Group C will have 10 teams. The Plate Group will have all the new entrants: Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. These teams were added to the roster courtesy to the Lodha Committee recommendations that mandated representation for each of the states.
The BCCI have essentially reverted to the structure adopted for the 2016-17 season which had 28 teams in three groups - and added a fourth group with the new teams.
One team from the Plate Group and two from Group C will qualify for the quarter-finals, with five combined qualifying from Groups A and B. The Plate team that qualifies will be promoted to Group C the next season, with the bottom-placed team in Group C being relegated to the Plate Group. Similarly, the two teams that qualify from Group C will move to Groups A and B, while the teams that finish at the bottom of those two groups will be relegated to Group C.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy will follow the same format as the Ranji Trophy, in groupings and structure.
The domestic season will get underway with the Duleep Trophy on August 17. This will continue to feature three teams playing against each other once followed by a final. The Duleep Trophy will be followed by the 50-over tournaments: the Vijay Hazare Trophy (September 19 to October 20) and the Deodhar Trophy.
The Ranji Trophy will begin on November 1, with the league stage ending on January 10. The quarter-finals will begin on January 15, with the final to take place from February 2 to 6. The Irani Cup will then begin from February 11.
The 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, meanwhile, has been slated in from February 21 to March 14. This means the tournament may take place after the IPL 2019 auctions. In previous years, there had been a move from IPL franchises to have the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy played before the auctions.
The format for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy will have the 37 teams split into five groups, three with seven teams and two with eight teams. The top two teams from each group will qualify for a Super League in which they will be split into two further groups of five each. The top two teams from each Super League group will contest the final.
The women's senior one-day and T20 leagues will mirror that of the men. The women will begin their domestic season with the T20 Challenger Trophy from August 13, with the One-Day League in December and One-Day Challenger Trophy to follow in the first half of January. The women's T20 League will take place from February 20 to March 13.