Dubai: The build-up for Indian Premier League 2020 in the UAE is expected to pick up pace as the league says it has sent a formal acceptance of the offer from Emirates Cricket Board to stage the tournament this year. A team, comprising of some of the senior officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the representatives of the franchises are expected to land in the UAE soon to do a recce of the three venues, hotel and medical facilities - in view of the humongous challenge of hosting a nearly two-month tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘‘We have sent the acceptance letter to the ECB while we are expecting the approval from the Indian government to come through by this week,’’ said Brijesh Patel, the IPL commissioner. Last Friday, Patel had announced a longer 51-day window from September 19 to November 8 for the 13th edition of the cash-rich league in the UAE as per the demands of their broadcasters Star India, though it will have to be ratified by the IPL Governing Council.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone from India, Patel - a former Indian star of the Seventies - said: ‘‘We will be definitely sending a team to find out how a bio-bubble can be created for the players, support staff, match officials and the TV crew as there can be no compromise on the health and safety angle for all the stakeholders.’’
South African players doubtful
With the number of coronavirus cases multiplying in India by more than 45,000 on a given day, it’s unlikely that commercial flights will start between India and the UAE anytime soon. However, Patel said that chartered flights are the only option at this point both for the BCCI as well as the franchises: ‘‘It’s upto the franchises as to how early they would like to go and set up base in the UAE for acclimatisation. They are also in the process of chartering flights to travel to the UAE.’’
It will be, however, quite a bit of logistical nightmare as over 1200 people, including players, support staff, officials from different parts of the world have to be assembled together in the UAE. A directive from Emirates airline on Sunday stipulates India as one of the 29 countries, from where travellers will have to undertake a mandatory PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on arrival to Dubai from August 1 onwards. The rule also states that the travellers to Dubai should carry negative COVID-19 PCR test with them, with the test being taken at their country of origin at a minimum of 96 hours before departure.
In another development, the New Zealand Cricket and Cricket South Africa both have granted ‘no objection certificates’ for it’s cricketers to play in the IPL, but 10 cricketers from South Africa including AB de Villiers, Quinton De Kock appear doubtful starters for the tournament due to the pandemic situation in their country.
South Africa are currently under strict lockdown and no international take-offs are allowed since the last few months. The Caribbean Premier League (CPL), starting August 18, is already faced with a few tricky situation on this account as a number of Proteas cricketers – Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Rilee Rossouw, Anrich Nortje and Colin Ingram may find it impossible to reach Caribbean on time.