Duleep Trophy to be day-night matches, played with pink ball

Mumbai: The prestigious Duleep Trophy will return to the domestic first class cricket calendar in the 2016-17 season in a new avatar with matches being day-night affairs played with a pink ball, it was announced on Tuesday.

The traditional tournament, started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the 1961-62 season, wasn't played last year due to a cramped schedule. But it will make a return in the glamorous new model, according to BCCI.

The success of the first-ever day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide in November last year, has prompted BCCI to take the step, in an attempt to engage dwindling audience interest.

The maiden Australia-New Zealand day-night Test saw record crowds attend the historic event, with footfall in excess of 45,000 every day.

BCCI hopes the experiment will revive interest in the Duleep Trophy that has lost some of its sheen in recent years.

"The Tour and Programme Fixtures Committee met here and decided to recommend to the Technical Committee to consider the Duleep Trophy matches to be played as Day and Night games with pink ball," BCCI said in a statement.

Duleep Trophy is played between teams representing geographical zones of the country. The competition is named after Duleepsinhji of Nawanagar.

The board added that it is looking into several options to revive the footfall at match venues. India have a packed schedule in 2016 starting with an away-series against Australia starting this month.

"The committee also discussed various options to bring more fans to Test matches in the coming season. During the 2016-17 season, India is to play a total of thirteen (13) Test matches, ten (10) One-day Internationals and one (1) T20I against Bangladesh, New Zealand, England and Australia each," the statement said.

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