Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
REMAINING IPL MATCHES IN THE UAE FROM SEPT 19, FINAL SCHEDULED ON OCTOBER 15
The suspended edition of the Indian Premier League will resume in the UAE on September 19 with the final to be played on October 15. The BCCI has identified a 27-day window to complete the 31 remaining matches, after IPL 14 was suspended on May 4 as an intense second wave of the pandemic hit India. There were Covid-19 cases in four different IPL bubbles at the time.
The resumption plan hopes to hold the final on October 15 to coincide with the Dussera festival.
The Indian team completes its Test tour of England on September 14. “We are making provisions for some extra days in consultations with ICC over the T20 World Cup dates so that there are fewer double headers,” said a BCCI official. Double headers would not only compel players to play in the UAE heat, but also affect viewership numbers.
Leading BCCI officials including president Sourav Ganguly and Chairman Brijesh Patel are currently in the UAE to finalise plans. Primarily on the agenda are talks with Emirates Board and the UAE government to secure bio bubble arrangements like in 2020. Bringing back crowds to the stadiums are also on the table.
The biggest hurdle that remains is the availability of international players. Board officials are in talks with the Caribbean Premier League to advance its end from September 19 by a few days to allow the nine leading West Indies players, the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russel amongst others, and overseas CPL stars like Faf Du Plessis to play IPL.
Officials admit it’s unlikely that the ECB will release its players considering the T20 World Cup will be around the corner. This is likely to leave sides like Rajasthan Royals (Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler), KKR (captain Eoin Morgan) and Sunrisers (Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy) more affected than the others. “If the English players don’t come, we will lose Moeen Ali and Sam Curran. There is little we can do about it,” CSK CEO Kasi Vishwanathan said.
The other hurdle in what will be a late and unprecedented change to the international calendar is working closely with ICC to ensure preparations for the T20 World Cup (October-november) are not affected. BCCI has time till June 28 to decide, but it’s expected that the World Cup will move out of India to the UAE as well.
The ICC is already in talks to add Oman to its contingency plans to host the qualifying rounds before the World T20 proper gets underway in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, also the host venues for IPL.