Defending champions Rajasthan and 39-time champions Mumbai have been clubbed in Group A for the upcoming Ranji Trophy, starting November 2.
As announced earlier, the season will start with champions Rajasthan taking on Rest of India in the Irani Trophy match at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur from September 21 to 25.
National ODI champions Bengal will make their debut in the NKP Salve Challenge Series by virtue of winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
As per the Ranji Trophy draw, Group A, appears the easier of the Elite groups. Bengal, Hyderabad, Saurashtra, MP, Railways, Punjab and Gujarat are the seven other teams in it.
The 'Group of Death' certainly is 'B', which has four top teams in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka along with Baroda and last year's semi-finalists Haryana.
Maharashtra and Vidarbha, who were in the Plate group last year have been elevated to Group B.
Odisha, although wooden spooners in the group league stage of last year's Elite league, are in the same group.
Group C consists of all Plate group teams. As per a new rule, three teams each from Group A and B along with two teams from Group C will make it to the knock-out stage, due to be played in January 2013.
The Raj Singh Dungarpur Corporate Trophy will be played after the Ranji Trophy final unlike earlier years when it used to be the season-opening tournament.
The season will end with the limited-overs tournaments - the inter-state One-Day, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, and finally, the inter-state T20 League and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Group A: (1) Rajasthan, (2) Mumbai, (3) Hyderabad, (4) Madhya Pradesh, (5) Saurashtra, (6) Railways (7) Bengal, (8) Punjab, (9) Gujarat.
Group B: (1) Tamil Nadu, (2) Haryana, (3) Maharashtra, (4) Karnataka, (5) Uttar Pradesh, (6) Baroda, (7) Delhi, (8) Vidarbha, (9) Odisha.
Group C: (1) Himachal Pradesh, (2) Kerala, (3) Andhra Pradesh, (4) Services, (5) Tripura, (6) Goa, (7) Jharkhand, (8) Jammu & Kashmir, (9) Assam.