· Cricket is the unofficial national sport of India, and its development has been closely tied up with the history of the country, mirroring many of the political and cultural developments around issues such as caste, religion and nationality. Though cricket is indubitably the most popular sport in India, it is not the nation’s national sport (a distinction held by [field hockey].
Organization of Cricket in Modern India: International Cricket: International cricket in India generally does not follow a fixed pattern like, for example, the English schedule under which the nation tours other countries during winter and plays at home during the summer. Generally, there has recently been a tendency to play more one-day matches than Test matches. Cricket in India is managed by BCCI(Board of Control for Cricket in India), the richest cricket board in the cricket world. Indian International Cricketing Squad has also provided some of the greatest players to the world. Indian cricket has a rich history.
Domestic Competitions: Ranji Trophy – Founded as ‘The Cricket Championship of India’ at a meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India in July 1934. The first Ranji Trophy fixtures took place in the 1934-35 season. Syed Mohammed Hadi of Hyderabad was the first batsman to score a century in the tournament. The Trophy was donated by H.H. Sir Bhupendra Singh Mahinder Baha-dur, Maharajah of Patiala in memory of His late Highness Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of Nawanagar. In the main, the Ranji Trophy is composed of teams representing the states that make up India. As the political states have multiplied, so have cricket teams, but not every state has a team. Some states have more than one cricket team, e.g. Maharashtra and Gujarat. There are also ‘odd’ teams like Railways, and Services representing the armed forces. The various teams used to be grouped into zones – North, West, East, Central and South – and the initial matches were played on a league basis within the zones. The top two (until 1991-92) and then top three teams (subsequent years) from each zone then played in a national knock-out competition. Starting with the 2002-03 season, the zonal system has been abandoned and a two-division structure has been adopted with two teams being promoted from the plate league and two relegated from the elite league. If the knockout matches are not finished they are decided on the first-innings lead.
· Irani Trophy – The Irani Trophy tournament was conceived during the 1959-60 season to mark the completion of 25 years of the Ranji Trophy championship and was named after the late Z.R. Irani, who was associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from its inception in 1928, till his death in 1970 and a keen patron of the game. The first match, played between the Ranji Trophy champions and the Rest of India was played in 1959-60. For the first few years, it was played at the fag end of the season. Realising the importance of the fixture, the BCCI moved it to the beginning of the season. Since 1965-66, it has traditionally heralded the start of the new domestic season. The Irani Trophy game ranks very high in popularity and importance. It is one of the few domestic matches that is followed with keen interest by cricket lovers in the country. Leading players take part in the game which has often been a sort of selection trial to pick the Indian team for foreign tours.
· Vijay Hazare Trophy– named after the prolific Indian batsman, the Vijay Hazare Trophy was started in 2002-03 as an attempt to bring the limited-overs game among a greater audience. The competition involves state teams from the Ranji trophy plates battling out in a 50-over competition, much on the lines of Ford Ranger Cup of Australia and Friends Provident Trophy of England. Since its conception, Tamil Nadu and Mumbai have won the trophy twice each. It is also dubbed as the Premier Cup by BCCI. It now joins Deodhar Trophy as the second one-day competition of Indian domestic circuit.
· Duleep Trophy – The Duleep Trophy competition, a first-class competition, was started by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1961-62 with the aim of providing a greater competitive edge in domestic cricket – because, apart from the knock-out stages of the Ranji Trophy, that competition proved predictable, with Bombay winning for fifteen consecutive years. The Duleep was also meant to help the selectors in assessing form. The original format was that five teams, drawn from the five zones, play each other on a knock-out basis. From the 1993-94 season, the competition has been converted to a league format.
· Deodhar Trophy – Started in 1973-74 by Board of Control for Cricket in India, it is the current one-day cricket competition in Indian domestic cricket. 5 zonal teams – North zone, South zone, East zone, West zone and Central zone feature in the competition. North zone have won this competition 11th time. It is also called All-Star Series due to some big names representing their state sides in the one-day fixtures.
· Challenger series – Started as the Challenger series by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in 1994-95 and later named as NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in 1998-99, the tournament features 3 teams: India senior, India A and India B playing each other. They were later renamed India Blue, India Red and India Green respectively. This competition also marked as the platform of return for some big names like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in 2005-06 season after they battled injury and form respectively. The tournament features the top 36 players from across India and is also the most popular domestic structure after IPL.
· Inter-State T20 Championship – After India became another member of the ICC Twenty20 and played its first international T20 against South Africa, BCCI launched its own state structure in 2006-07 season, with 37 Ranji teams divided in groups of 7 based on zones. The final was played between Punjab and Tamil Nadu, which the latter won by 2 wickets and 2 balls remaining, thereby becoming the only ever winner of this series. In this series, Rohit Sharma also became the only ever Indian to register a T20 century for Mumbai against Gujarat. The competition was later replaced by a franchise-based IPL.
· Indian Cricket League – Appalled by the state of domestic Indian cricket, Zee TV decided to launch this league as its own Twenty20 domestic series. The first matches were held in October 2007. The ICL sprung into the spotlight due to its head on battle with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Brian Lara was the first international star to be officially drafted to play in the league. It also includes two fully drafted international teams from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Other big names include Chris Harris, Chris Cairns, Shane Bond, Marvan Atapattu, Craig Macmillan, Jason Gillespie, Stuart Law and Michael Bevan with many others.
· Indian Premier League – In response to the rival ICL, the BCCI started the Indian Premier League. This League has been launched by BCCI have received support from all the other Cricket Boards, and International Players could be drafted into City-based Franchises.
· Mohammad Nissar Trophy – Played for the first time in 2006-07 season, the competition is named after the pre-partition Indian (later Pakistani) player who played for India under C.K. Nayudu and is considered as the fastest bowler of 1930-40s. It showcases the growing friendship between the two neighbors and brings together their craze for the game. It is played between the winners of the respective first-class domestic competitions of India and Pakistan, viz. Ranji Trophy and Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. The first competition was drawn and was played between Mumbai and Karachi Urban. The second installment was won by the Pakistani side, SNGPL defeating Delhi in a rain-shortened match and won on the account of first-innings deficit.
· Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – To be played for the first time in the 2008-09 season, this will be the first of its kind zonal T20 championship and the third overall in the Indian cricket season, which would see Ranji teams divided along zonal lines into two groups with the tournament culminating in the All India T20 final between the winners of the two groups for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Launched after the success of the IPL and the need of the BCCI to search for more talent in the growing regions of cricket.
· All India Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup – It is a tournament held in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, organised annually by the Hyderabad Cricket Association. The participating teams have differed in all competitions with most state cricket associations and some private cricket teams taking part in different years. The runners-up are presented with Syed Mohammad Hadi Trophy. The format of the tournament has been the traditional 2 innings – 1st innings of 90 overs a side and 2nd innings of 40 overs a side. The match is played over two days and the series is effectively the first tournament of the Indian Cricket Season of a year.