Irani Trophy – The 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 tail 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 high in popularity and importance. It is one of the few domestic matches 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.
Cricket is one of many games in the "club ball" sphere that basically involve hitting a ball with a hand-held implement; others include baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis. In cricket's case, a key difference is the existence of a solid target structure, the wicket (originally, it is thought, a "wicket gate" through which sheep were herded), that the batsman must defend. The cricket historian Harry Altham identified three "groups" of "club ball" games: the "hockey group", in which the ball is driven to and fro between two targets (the goals); the "golf group", in which the ball is driven towards an undefended target (the hole); and the "cricket group", in which "the ball is aimed at a mark (the wicket) and driven away from it".
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the governing body for the Indian cricket team and first-class cricket in India. The Board has been operating since 1929 and represents India at the International Cricket Council. It is amongst the richest sporting organisations in the world. It sold media rights for India's matches from 2006–2010 for US$612,000,000. It manages the Indian team's sponsorships, its future tours and team selection.
The domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy and the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. In addition, the BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 competition, which is also one of the biggest sports leagues in the world and the biggest cricket league in the world. The Indian cricket team is also accredited with the honour of winning all the ICC tournaments under M.S. Dhoni's captaincy, which is a world record. While cricket is by far the most popular sport in the country it is not the country's national sport since India has no national sport.
Ganguly became the regular captain of the team in both Tests and ODIs in 2000. He remained captain until 2005–06 and became the then most successful Indian captain, winning 21 of his 49 Test matches in charge and 76 of his 146 ODIs. Under his captaincy, India became the joint-winners of the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka, and the runners-up of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. India lost only three Tests at home under Ganguly and managed to draw Test series in England and Australia. Rahul Dravid took over as Test captain in 2005. In 2006, he led India to its first Test series victory in the West Indies in more than 30 years.