Dubai: The United Arab Emirates, which had hosted the the first leg of Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2014, has emerged as one of the options if the Indian cricket board eventually decides to shift the 2020 edition out of the country. The current season of the league has been ‘indefinitely postponed’ in view of the health emergency in India due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A media report in India said that the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) became the second body after Sri Lanka Cricket who had offered to host the 2020 season, though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) says they are not yet in a position to decide on the offers.
The IPL was shifted outside India twice so far, once in South Africa (2009) and then partly to the UAE, with the Parliamentary elections throwing up logistical challenges in terms of providing security in India. Incidentally, the UAE – which boasts of three international venues in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi – was also being talked about as an option last year due to the elections but the whole event could be finally accommodated in India.
Confirming that there is an offer from the UAE, a senior BCCI official said it’s too premature to take call on it though. Speaking to Gulf News from India, Arun Dhumal, the BCCI treasurer said: ‘’We are still keeping the options open to host the IPL this year, including taking it abroad. However, with the pandemic yet to come under control and a ban on international travel, it’s still too early to take a call on the event.’’
The IPL 2020, which was originally scheduled to start on March 29, was first put off till April 15 with the first phase of the lockdown scheduled till April 14. However, once the lockdown was extended till May 3, BCCI decided to postpone the league for an indefinite period till the pandemic came under control.
There are, however, several ifs and buts in the way of IPL eventually finding a window in an otherwise choc-a-bloc international calendar which has come to a grinding halt. Finding a window for the IPL, even with a truncated format, seems to be the biggest challenge as of now in view of the international calendar lined up from September till the yearend - if cricketing action gets under way at all.
The ‘Men in Blue’ are scheduled to play in Asia Cup in September – which has the names of Pakistan and UAE pencilled as hosts. Ehsan Mani, the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), hosts of the upcoming edition, has already gone on record saying that they would not be ready to ‘sacrifice’ Asia Cup to facilitate the staging of IPL during that period.
The Asia Cup is set to be followed by a short visit of England to India for a white ball series (three ODIs & three T20s), to be followed by the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held Down Under from October 18-November 15. The showpiece is very much still on schedule, though the ICC are monitoring the situation closely in Australia in light of the coronavirus crisis.
The World T20 will be followed by a four-Test series between India and Australia over the yearend, with Cricket Australia pinning a lot of hopes on that series for a financial redressal.
It remains to be seen where does it leave the room for IPL, the biggest cash cow of world cricket at the moment!
INDIA’S TOUR ROGRAMME
India tour of Sri Lanka, 2020
Matches: 3 ODI and 3 T20
Venue: Sri Lanka; Status: On Schedule
August 2020 India tour of Zimbabwe 2020
Matches: 3 ODI
Venue: Zimbabwe; Status: Cancelled
Asia Cup, 2020
Matches: 12 ODI and one final match
Venue: Pakistan, UAE. Status: On Schedule
Sep - Oct 2020 England tour of India 2020
Matches: 3 ODI and 3 T20
October 2020: India tour of Australia T20 World Cup
November-December: Test series vs Australia