Kolkata: The build-up to IPL 2022 got a timely boost with the announcement of new title-sponsors Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate with diverse interests. They will replace Chinese mobile manufacturer Vivo for the 2022 & 2023 seasons after the latter pulled out.
“This is indeed a momentous occasion for the BCCI IPL as the Tata Group is the epitome of global Indian enterprise with an over 100 year old legacy and operations in more than 100 countries across six continents. The BCCI, like the TATA Group is keen to promote the spirit of cricket across international borders, and the growing popularity of the IPL as a global sporting franchise bears testimony to the BCCI’s efforts. We are truly happy that India’s largest and most trusted business groups has believed in the IPL growth story and together with the Tata Group, we will look to take Indian cricket and the IPL forward to greater heights,” Jay Shah, Secretary, BCCI said in a statement.
The formal clearance for Tatas was given at a key meeting of the IPL Governing Council on Tuesday, which also saw both the new franchises - Ahmedabad and Lucknow been given a time frame for player signing before the mega auction takes place in early February. The two new franchises, with an eye towards having a level-playing field, will have the option to name three players (two Indians and one overseas) before jumping into the fray in the auction to set the rest of the house in order.
It’s hardly a secret now that Ahmedabad - who were given a Letter of Intent (LoI) by the BCCI earlier this week - will be zeroing in on allrounder Hardik Pandya as the captain of the team. The younger of the Pandya brothers, who hail from Gujarat’s Baroda, has been released by Mumbai Indians and will be looking to rediscover himself in the IPL fold.
Ishan Kishan, the dashing wicketkeeper-batsman released by MI, is believed to the Ahmedabad franchise’s preferred choice for wicketkeeper-batsman while Rashid Khan could be their overseas spin bowler.
Meanwhile, KL Rahul is almost certain to take over as the captain of the Lucknow franchise. The Sanjiv Goenka-owned Lucknow team, which are also eyeing the Afghanistan impact player, have Australia allrounder Marcus Stoinis and South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada as back-ups if they fail to get Rashid Khan. Leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Rahul Chahar are also in demand since both the grounds at Ahmedabad and Lucknow have big boundaries which is seen as an advantage for leg-spinners to ply their trade.
This, however, brings to the sensitive question of where the IPL will be staged this season - what with the Third Wave of Covid-19 already sweeping India. The mandarins of BCCI are extremely keen to stage the tournament in India this year as the league is turning a new leaf and have kept a Plan B ready - that of hosting the tournament in four venues of Mumbai and Maharashtra - rather spread it across the country to curb travel of the players.
The UAE, which had extended a helping hand by hosting the full event behind closed doors in 2020 and the second leg with fans in 2021, remains an extremely viable option - but the BCCI have adopted a wait-and-watch policy this time - keeping the decision for a later date.