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Darren Sammy, the then West Indies captain, poses with a pair of trophies as he celebrates after victory in the World T20 cricket final in 2016. It was the last edition of the World Cup in this format. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: All eyes of the cricketing world will be rivetted on the board meeting of International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday, which is likely to formally announce a postponement of the T20 World Cup, scheduled as of now to be held in October-November in Australia.

The world governing body of the game had been under increasing pressure from the global cricket community to push back the dates in view of the logistical nightmare that hosting an event of this magnitude, with 16 participating countries, will entail in view of the fluid situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the final announcement from the ICC after the video conference will only clear the air, it’s most likely that the showpiece may now be postponed to 2022.

The option of pushing the World T20 to 2022 looks a more realistic one as there is already a T20 World Cup scheduled in October, 2021 in India. The idea of scheduling two World Cups of the same format in one year, with an unstable global economic environment, will dilute the appeal of this otherwise hugely popular format.

A likely new schedule can then be India hosting a T20 World Cup in 2021, Australia will host the event in 2022 and then again India will host the 50-over World Cup in 2023.

In India, the government has to take a call (on IPL) and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation

- Kiren Rijiju, Indian Sports Minister

The ICC, while admitting that the dates of the World T20 will dominate the agenda - alongwith the modalities of the election of the chairman - said they were yet to take any decision on the dates itself. Denying reports in some Indian news channels that the event has been already postponed, a ICC spokesperson said: ‘‘The ICC has not taken a decision to postpone the T20 World Cup and preparations are ongoing for the event in Australia this year as per plan. The topic is on the agenda for the ICC Board meeting tomorrow (Thursday) and a decision will be made in due course.’’

While the ICC will take a final call after another round of taking stock on Thursday from all the stakeholders of the World T20, namely the Board of Directors and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the World Cup, informed sources reveal that the member countries are also insisting that the ICC decides on the dates sooner than later so that they can go ahead with their own plans. It’s almost a no-brainer that should the World T20 be pushed back on

Thursday itself, the mighty Indian cricket board will heave a sigh of relief and plan to use the October-November window to stage the Indian Premier League.

However, the BCCI has been rather low key about their prospects of hosting the IPL as it’s directly related to the status of the pandemic in the country over the next few months. Indian sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said that any decision regarding the IPL to take place this year would be taken by the government and not by the Indian cricket board.

“In India, the government has to take a call and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation,” Rijiju said in an interview.

“We can’t put the health of the nation at risk just because we want sporting events to be held. Our focus is fighting COVID-19,” he added.