Dubai: The franchises of Indian Premier League (IPL) are disappointed that they will be missing their fans back home but heaved a huge sigh of relief that the 13th edition of the league is eventually going ahead in the UAE between September-November. The tournament is scheduled to be played in a long 53-day window from September 19 to November 10 in the three venues of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Life had not been easy for the eight franchises, who had been on tenterhooks since last March since the IPL was postponed indefinitely for this year once the coronavirus pandemic made inroads in India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which made a formal announcement on the IPL dates last Sunday after their Governing Council meeting, have already asked the franchises to make their own travel arrangements and visas - though they are still waiting for a formal clearance from the Indian government.
‘‘It’s definitely a disappointment that we had to shift the tournament outside the country due to the COVID-19 situation, but we are happy that the event is finally taking place. We have played a previous edition in the UAE and know what to expect,’’ said Kasi Vishwanathan, CEO of Chennai Super Kings.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone from India, the CSK supremo said they had to postpone their plans of arriving in the UAE early for an acclimatisation camp here. ‘‘As per the BCCI directive, we will now be travelling after August 20 and set up base in Dubai,’’ he said.
Asked about the matches being played behind closed doors, at least in the intial rounds of the tournament, Viswanathan said: ‘‘We would have ideally have liked to play in front of the fans, and they are quite huge in numbers in the UAE. However, given the circumstances, we have to settle for playing without fans.’’
Describing the news of IPL taking place as a ‘‘breath of fresh air,’’ Parth Jindal, team co-owner and chairman of Delhi Capitals said: “There is no doubt that the news of the IPL taking place has come as a breath of fresh air for all of us. The fact that the IPL is going to be conducted amidst such challenging times is another testament to the BCCI and to IPL’s global standing as one of the top leagues amongst all sports in the world.
‘‘The number of people who have expressed delight is remarkable and we all at DC are looking forward to giving it our all for our fans to bring the trophy to Delhi this season. IPL truly has the power to lift the morale of our country as we fight the COVID pandemic and I for one am delighted that IPL 2020 is being conducted. To our Delhi Capitals fans, I would like to stress on how important your support is going to be for our team, even though you will not be able to make it to the stadiums this year it will be our endeavor to keep you engaged remotely throughout the tournament in the best and most innovative way possible,” he said in a statement.
Shreyas Iyer, the young captain who captained the side to a creditable third place finish last season, said: “In the challenging times that our world is going through, there’s no doubt that the news of the IPL happening is one of the best things we’ve all heard in a long time. We’re definitely going to miss our Delhi fans in the stadium, they were a crucial part of our success last year. I can’t wait to assemble with my teammates soon, especially those who are new to the Delhi Capitals side, and give our very best in making the upcoming season a truly memorable one.”