Dubai: Star India, broadcasters of Indian Premier League (IPL), had their way as the Indian cricket board announced a longer window between September 19 to November 8 for IPL 13 to be held in the UAE. The 51-day window means an additional week from the initially planned start of September 26, apparently at the insistence of the broadcasters who wanted to have as fewer number of double-headers as possible - while this would also mean players will be spared of playing more day matches in the extreme heat.
“We have had a discussion and we are looking at the September 19 to November 8 window for this edition of the league. We have informed the franchises about the same,” said Brijesh Patel, the IPL chairman. The IPL Governing Council, which was supposed to meet on Friday, is now likely to meet on Monday while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is also awaiting a clearance from the Indian government.
The window, however, has room for some discussion as the England and Australia players will be engaged in a series in England till September 15 and that could mean them missing the first few games of their respective franchises. However, Patel said it shouldn’t be an issue and these things can be discussed threadbare in the Governing Council meeting.
“Shouldn’t be a problem. The England-Australia series ends on September 15. So, we should have them flying in directly to Dubai. We will discuss the final matters in the GC meeting next week,” he said.
When contacted by Gulf News, at least three franchises, however, refused to comment till the ‘‘official announcement’’ comes through next week. However, the BCCI has joined the franchises in making logistical plans for the cash-rich league as the travel restrictions are yet to be lifted between India and the UAE in view of the spiralling COVID-19 cases in India.
Apart from the IPL teams, logistics and operations teams from the BCCI will also be heading to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah to see to it that preparations are on in full swing and there is no execution issues. If the UAE airlines don’t start operations by then, all will fall back on chartered planes.
However, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) are still waiting to hear officially from the BCCI so that they can start moving with getting the necessary government approvals. While the respective cricket councils are working on keeping the venues ready for a possible visit of the BCCI delegation as early as next week, informed sources said the ECB has already engaged dedicated teams to do a feasibility study on the percentage of crowd that can be allowed in each venues if needed. ‘‘They are taking into conisderation the number of entry points in each stadium and the possibility of installing sanitisation tunnels etc for the spectators to walk through,’’ sources revealed.
The ICC last Monday postponed the T20 World Cup, originally scheduled in Australia in October-November, as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet. This has opened the door for the BCCI to host the IPL in that window.