Dubai: The last time the Indian Premier League (IPL) had to move offshore to the UAE in 2014 because of the general elections, it met with a huge response here from the expat fans while it ticked all the boxes for the Indian cricket board as well. The country is very much on the radar again as come 2019, the dates of the cricket extravaganza are almost certain to clash again with the parliamentary elections in India.
Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive chat, IPL commissioner Rajiv Shukla said: “It’s almost binding that, in the year of the elections, we have to take the league outside the country as it requires major logistics in terms of security. The first time was in the second edition in 2009 when we had to move it to South Africa, while the IPL VII saw nearly one-third of the matches being held in the UAE.
“Should such a situation arise again next year, the UAE will be our preferred choice as we got a good response last time. It’s also easier to organise the matches here,” the top official observed.
The seventh edition of the IPL saw 16 games being held in the UAE when matches were played to packed houses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. It was quite a coup on the part of the UAE as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also had a heavyweight contender like South Africa besides Bangladesh in the fray but finally cast the vote in favour of the UAE after strong endorsement from a majority of the franchise owners.
Meanwhile, the eleventh edition of IPL this year is set to witness a mega auction at the end of this month with a whopping 1122 players signing up to be a part of the Players’ Auction 2018, scheduled to take place in Bengaluru on Jan 27 and 28. The deadline for registration ended on Friday.
The list sent out to the eight IPL franchises has 281 capped players, 838 uncapped players, including 778 Indians and three players from the Associate nations. A total of 282 overseas players, who includes all the regulars at the league over the past decade, alongwith a few surprise candidates, have been named in the list.
Australian players top the list at 58, followed by the West Indies and Sri Lanka with 39 players each and New Zealand (30). England, a country which didn’t quite warm up to idea of the cash-rich league in it’s initial years, has thrown up 26 cricketers for grabs.
Joe Root, England’s Test captain, has thrown his hat into the ring for the first time and, according to media reports from the England camp, is really keen to be a part of it in view of the 50-overs World Cup next year.
A fierce bidding war is expected to break out when Indian stars Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav and openers K.L. Rahul and Murali Vijay — released by the respective teams — go under the hammer.
The franchises will leave no stone unturned when Chris Gayle, Ben Stokes, Chris Lynn, Eoin Morgan and pacers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins come up for the auction. Dwayne Bravo, Carlos Brathwaite, Evin Lewis and Jason Holder will add the Caribbean flavour to the league.
(282 OVERSEAS PLAYERS)
Country Players Registered
New Zealand 30
South Africa 57
Sri Lanka 39
West Indies 39