A file photo of Suresh Raina of Chennai Super Kings, during the IPL match at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archives

Dubai: The UAE along with South Africa are the only two options in case the 12th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) has to move overseas again, according to a top official of the league. The players’ auction for IPL 2019 was conducted in the western Indian city of Jaipur on Tuesday.

Rajeev Shukla, Chairman of IPL, said the Indian cricket board are waiting for the announcement of the dates of parliamentary selections in the country next year to finalise the venue. Speaking to Gulf News over phone, Shukla said: “The advantage this time is there is no need to do any feasibility study about either the UAE or South Africa, as both countries have hosted the event before. We are just waiting for the date of the elections and take a call accordingly after discussion with all the stakeholders, including the government.”

The IPL has announced that the cash-rich T20 league will be held from March 29 to May 19 next year but have held on to the announcement of the fixtures due to the uncertainty over the venue. Admitting that the players’ draft on Tuesday was like a “mini auction,” Shukla said that most of the franchise owners were somewhat conservative with their spending as the difference in venue often calls for different skill sets from the players.

All three international venues in the UAE: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah had hosted their share of matches when the country hosted the first two weeks of IPL in 2014 when the last Lok Sabha polls were held in India. The only other occasion when the IPL had to move out of India was in 2009, when the entire edition was moved to South Africa — again due to the elections as the state governments are in no position to provide security during this period.

Refusing to spell out on comparative chances of either of two countries above, Shukla did not even rule out the chances of the entire event staying in India. “There are a few sets of fixtures kept ready but it all depends on the dates of elections as I said,” Shukla, a former senior vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, reiterated.

Informed sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, feel that given the nearly two-month window required for the IPL, there is no option but to stage a segment of the league away again. If the situation is identical to 2014 when only the first part of it had to be shifted, then the UAE looks a better option but should the entire tournament be moved out of India, then South Africa may emerge as the front-runner.

Asked about his expectations from IPL XII, Shukla said: “We have, from the last edition, changed the revenue model for the franchise owners whereby the eight franchises will share 40 per cent of the profit while the BCCI will get 60 per cent. This should leave them in a happy space and enable them to focus on brand building strongly in the run-up to the league.”

Meanwhile, Kings XI Punjab, one of the few heavy spenders in the auction (they roped in two of the day’s three million dollar boys in mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy and young England all-rounder Sam Curran), greeted their 13 new players on board in a press release.

Kings XI Punjab CEO Satish Menon said: “We played our cards right, bid at the right moments, and pulled out at the right times to make sure we stood strong strategically. We have a good core of players already at Kings XI Punjab and these 13 will ensure we take a step ahead together. We welcome them all to our family!”