The Duleep Trophy has been scrapped from the 2017-18 domestic calendar, which will begin with the Ranji Trophy on 6 October.
The Duleep Trophy, which normally serves as the season-opener, has now been postponed to the beginning of the next season in the wake of tight international calendar which will see India hosting 23 limited-overs matches from September to December.
Confirming the news, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official said that the Duleep Trophy was conducted in a year-and-a-half cycle and not necessarily on an annual basis.
Last year's Duleep Trophy featured three teams namely India Red, India Blue and India Green, playing with the pink ball under lights.
Reflecting on the tournament, the BCCI official said that the domestic first-class cricket competition would continue to be played with the pink ball, before adding that it is best suited to be played at the beginning of the season instead of the middle or the end.
"If you remember, ahead of the World T20 year [in 2016], we didn't have the Duleep Trophy because there was no relevance in holding it when we were looking at selecting a T20 side. Last year, we had a 13-Test season, so starting the Duleep Trophy before the Tests had greater relevance and we had time to do it. The Duleep Trophy takes 24 days [to finish], and with such a long season and with all venues being occupied - obviously we can't do it in June or July - we had only September," ESPNcricinfo quoted the BCCI official as saying.
"And, this year we are starting the international season on September 17 which means the team would assemble on September 10 or 11. That's the reason we decided to defer it to the beginning of next season, which is again a Test season with India playing West Indies and touring Australia and New Zealand. The Duleep will then form the basis for selection in the longer formats," he added.
While the U-19 World Cup being scheduled to be held from January to February next year in New Zealand, the Vijay Hazare 50-overs senior tournament hasn't been advanced despite India playing a number of limited-overs games in the next few months.
"The thing is even if Vijay Hazare starts in October-November, it will spill over into December. However, even the knockouts of Ranji Trophy will be over before India go to South Africa. That way everyone can participate in these games before the South Africa tour begins," he added.
The quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy will be held from December 7 to December 11 while the last-four clash is slated to take place from December 17 to December 21.
The finals will be held from 29 December to 2 January.