In a bid to give domestic players more chance to showcase their skills to potential bidders, the BCCI has decided to revert to the inter-state knock-out format for the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. During the previous edition, the knock-out leg saw five zones — North, South, East, West and Central compete on a round-robin basis. It meant that zonal teams had partial representation of players from each state.

“Yes, the BCCI has decided that once again the top two teams from each of the five zones will qualify for the knock-out stage unlike the last time. In all, 10 teams will be playing in the knock-outs and will be divided into two groups of five teams each. The knock-out stage will be held in Kolkata from January 21-27,” a senior BCCI official told PTI today.

The top two teams from each group will then qualify for the semi-finals. The matches are expected to be held at the Eden Gardens and JU (Salt Lake) ground. It has been learnt that the decision was taken so that the IPL talent scouts can get a chance to have a wider base of players to look into before the auction is held on January 27 and 28 in Bengaluru.

“While the auction is on the day of the Mushtaq Ali final in Kolkata but by then the franchises will have a fair idea about the domestic talent,” the official said.

The franchises have sent their talent scouts to all the venues where the zonal leg of the the Mushtaq Ali Trophy is happening.