Kolkata: The remaining 31 matches of IPL 2021 is likely to get underway in the UAE from September 18-19 and will have eight double-headers during a 25-day window, according to well-places sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A BCCI top brass met Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner General of Expo 2020 Dubai, in an extended meeting in Dubai and were given assurance of ‘‘full cooperation’’ like last year.
The BCCI delegation, comprising of Jay Shah, Rajiv Shukla, Arun Dhumal, the secretary, vice-president and treasurer, respectively and IPL chairman Brijesh Patel met Sheikh Nahyan, chairman of Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) in Dubai for his nod to go ahead with the groundwork. The Indian board had, in a Special General Meeting on May 29, confirmed their plans of hosting the rest of the tournament in the UAE.
Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI President, could not be present in the meeting as he flew in with his family to Dubai later in the day and would be camping there for the next three to four days for a recce of the venues.
The issue of allowing fans to the three venues: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah is still fluid though there is a possibility of a limited percentage of fans being allowed into the stadia this time. The Dubai Sports Council had been allowing upto 30% of capacity crowd in public sporting arenas in recent times.
It could well be a hectic year for the UAE as hosts as they are in line to host the remaining 20 matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Abu Dhabi from next week, followed by the IPL in the UAE while the International Cricket Council (ICC) has asked the UAE to be ready alongwith a Gulf country as a contingency plan to host the T20 World Cup in October-November.
The BCCI has been given time time till June 28 to take a call on whether they can host the showpiece in India on schedule and they will seek the directive of the Indian government on playing hosts after the deadly second wave of the pandemic ravaged the country in April-May and forced a suspension of IPL. Oman, incidentally, is the back-up Gulf country to host the event along with UAE.