Format[ edit ] From its inceptions until the season with the exception of season , the teams were grouped geographically into four or five zones — North, West, East, and South, with Central added in — Initial matches were played within the zones on a knock-out basis until —57, and thereafter on a league basis, to determine a winner; then, the five individual zone winners competed in a knock-out tournament, leading to a final which decided the winner of the Ranji Trophy.
From the —71 season, the knock-out stage was expanded to the top two teams from each zone, a total of ten qualifying teams.
This was expanded again to the top three from each zone in —93, a total of fifteen qualifying teams; between —97 and —, the fifteen qualifying teams competed in a secondary group stage, with three groups of five teams, and the top two from each group qualified for a six-team knock-out stage; in all other years until —02, a full fifteen-team knock-out tournament was held.
The format was changed in the —03 season with the zonal system abandoned and a two-division structure adopted — the Elite Group, containing fifteen teams, and the Plate Group, containing the rest.
Each group had two sub-groups which played a round-robin; the top two from each Elite sub-group then contested a four-team knock-out tournament to determine the winner of the Ranji Trophy. The team which finished last in each Elite sub-group was relegated, and both Plate Group finalists were promoted for the following season.
For the —07 season , the divisions were re-labelled the Super League and Plate League respectively. In the —09 season, this format was adjusted to give both Super League and Plate League teams an opportunity to contest the Ranji Trophy.
The top two from each Plate sub-group contested semi-finals; the winners of these two matches then joined the top three from each Super League sub-group in an eight-team knock-out tournament. The winner of this knock-out tournament then won the Ranji Trophy. Promotion and relegation between Super League and Plate League continued as before.
In the —11 season, Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy after beginning the season in the Plate League. From the —13 season, this format was adjusted slightly.
The Super League and Plate League names were abandoned, but the two-tier system remained.
The top tier expanded from fifteen teams to eighteen teams, in two sub-groups of nine known as Group A and Group B, and considered equal in status ; and the second tier was reduced to nine teams in a single group known as Group C.
For the season, the two-tier system was abandoned to have 4 groups of seven teams each and two quarter-finalists from each group. From the season, the teams contested in three-tiers.
Two teams will qualify from the second-tier Elite Group C and One team from the lower-tier Plate Group for the quarter-finals.
Round-robin matches are four days in length; knockout matches are played for five days.
Throughout its history, if there is no outright result in a Ranji Trophy knock-out match, the team leading after the first innings is the winner.
Prior to the —17 season matches were played at the home ground of one of the two teams taking part.
For the —17 competition the BCCI decided that all games would be staged at a neutral venue.