Maharaja Trophy T20 – KSCA Relaunch Flagship T20 Tournament in August

The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) is relaunching its T20 tournament in August, three years after the league was hit by a series of corruption allegations and then the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Karnataka Premier League (KPL), as it was then known, will now be called the Maharaja Trophy T20. Aside from the rebrand, the KSCA has made some structural changes to the way the six-team tournament will be run going forward.

What’s new?
The KSCA has dissolved the franchise model and will take full control of all aspects of cricket – from player draws to payments to appointments of coaches and staff. However, they have brought sponsors on board for each of the six teams for the ninth edition, which will take place in Bengaluru and Mysore from August 7 to 26.

Was corruption the reason for the change in structure?
First of all, the KSCA made the switch keeping in mind the country’s tax laws. “The association is liable to pay a higher percentage of its income in the form of taxes if they adhere to the franchise system as it is seen as earned income under the tax lens,” Secretary Santosh Menon said. “The current formula — where KSCA bears all costs — won’t yield the same tax rate.” That said, the KSCA has reiterated its position to comply with all anti-corruption protocols as mandated by the BCCI.

Who are the six teams?
Each of the six zones of KSCA is represented: Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi, Shivamogga, Raichur and Mangaluru.

How are teams formed?
The KSCA’s cricket committee, led by president and former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny, has formed a core group of six selectors chosen from the state’s six zones who will participate in the drafting process to ensure all squads are balanced. The selectors are Anand Katti, AR Mahesh, MV Prashanth, Santosh Vadeyaraj and Raghotham Navli.

All top cricketers in the 35-year age bracket are eligible to play. The KSCA committee will also nominate the captains and vice-captains. No team sponsors will be involved in selecting the playing XI, or in any other cricket decision.

Who appoints the coaches?
The KSCA has distributed top coaching talent — a head coach and an assistant — to each of the six teams. The head coaches are Stuart Binny, Nazeeruddin, Mansur Ali Khan, Nikhil Haldipur, Deepak Chougale and PV Shashikant. One physiotherapist, trainer and video analyst will also be appointed for each of the six teams.

How does the design process go?
Players are divided into four classes – A, B, C and D. Those who have played for India and in the IPL make up class A. State players who have only played in one of the senior tournaments (Ranji Trophy/Vijay Hazare Trophy/Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) will be part of Class B. Those who participated in different age group tournaments (Under 19, Under 23) will make up Class C, while Class D will feature emerging talent.

How much can the players earn?
Unlike before where players were picked at an auction – Pavan Deshpande was the most expensive player of 2019 at INR 7.3 lakh – payments will be uniform according to the numbers they belong to. Those in A are given a fixed amount of INR 5 lakh. Players in B, C and D earn INR 2 lakh, 1 lakh and 50,000 respectively.

Who are some of the top players to look forward to?
All of the state’s top players – except those with national service – will participate. These include Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Prasidh Krishna, Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham among others.

Will the matches be televised?
Yes. Star Sports are the broadcast partners.

What is the format?
Each team plays against the other five once, before the bottom two are filtered out. The top four will then go through the same process of qualifying and elimination, similar to the IPL play-offs system.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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