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BCCI set to make Mushtaq Ali T20 a zonal meet

The BCCI is set to completely overhaul the structure and format of National T20 Championship for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy by transforming it from inter-state to inter-zonal competition.

It has been learnt from reliable sources that during the recent Tours and Fixtures Committee Meeting of BCCI, President Anurag Thakur proposed a roadmap for change to make the tournament more engaging and also improve the quality of competition.

As per the current structure, Mushtaq Ali T20's initial round is played with state teams being divided into various groups and then the top teams from initial rounds are again divided into two groups with the top two teams playing the final.

According to the BCCI president's proposal, state teams will first play against each other at zonal level and once that part is over, each zone will have one common team with all its zonal level performer.

So the main performers of East, North, South, Central and West will represent their zones and the sixth team could be called 'Board President's XI' or 'Rest of India' with some of the talented juniors slogging it out with the best from the zone.

These six teams will then fight for the main Championship.

When BCCI president Thakur was contacted, he confirmed that discussions have indeed taken place. Initially reluctant to speak, Thakur opened up after some persuasion.

"Yes, we discussed the issue at length during Fixtures Committee Meeting. The endeavour is to make domestic cricket more engaging and viable," Thakur told PTI today.

"With 1882 playing days, the BCCI has shown how serious we are about our domestic structure. We have decided to have Ranji Trophy at neutral venue, Duleep Trophy with pink ball and now we are trying to make Mushtaq Ali more competitive by bringing in zonal structure. The aim is to improve the quality of domestic cricket. We are trying to finalise details and senior officials will be putting a process in place," the President said.

The BCCI has taken a lot of positive steps with regards to domestic cricket where Duleep Trophy will be played among teams selected by the national selectors.

It has been learnt that the tournament will be held at an appropriate time so that some of the talented uncapped cricketers get enough scope to showcase their skills to IPL franchises.

If the concept of zonal cricket in Mushtaq Ali becomes successful, it might open up the possibility of stakeholders from outside investing in the competition.

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