With the COVID-19 showing little signs of improvement in India, the BCCI is reportedly looking at conducting this year’s IPL outside the country. The BCCI has constantly maintained that hosting the tournament in India is their first priority. But with the way cases are increasing in the country, it looks highly likely that the tournament will be shifted outside India.
The thirteenth edition of the IPL was set to start on March 29 and end on May 17. But in the wake of the pandemic, the BCCI suspended the league till mid-April before suspending it indefinitely. But in the last few days, BCCI has made it clear that it is still conducting of hosting the tournament.
Earlier this week, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said that the board is exploring all the options for the tournament. And latest reports suggest that IPL might take place in United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year. According to Indian Express, the BCCI is considering the country as the best possible venue for the tournament in October-November.
The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has already expressed its interest in hosting the tournament and the presence of three stadiums in close proximity there makes this the best option for all the stakeholders, the BCCI believes.
Had the situation been better in Mumbai, the BCCI would have been able to use Wankhede Stadium, and the DY Patil and Brabourne Stadiums and even Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium. However, with the state now the worst hit, that possibility is ruled out.
The BCCI at the moment is waiting for the International Cricket Council to announce its decision on the T20 World Cup. The governing body of the game recently deferred its decision on the marquee event to July The T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia in October-November.
Along with UAE, Sri Lanka Cricket has also expressed interest in hosting the IPL. However, there are complications in hosting the IPL in the island nation. For instance, Colombo might have three stadiums, but only R Premadasa has floodlight facilities. This means Hambantota, Pallekele and Dambula have to be considered as alternate venues, which adds to logistical challenges.
On the other hand, the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Dubai Sports Complex and Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE are close to each other making travel by road an easy option. Moreover, they also have state-of-the-art practice facilities.
“UAE is a viable option because you need bio-secure stay. Ideally, a place where no outsider is allowed will be needed and in UAE, you can get that provided two or three teams occupy a hotel. Since the IPL will have players from all countries, the best safety measures are needed, which includes less travel. That’s why UAE ticks all the boxes. Plus, its past history of hosting the tournament will also be helpful,” a highly-placed source in the BCCI told The New Indian Express.
Hosting the IPL in UAE is nothing new for the BCCI. In 2014, a part of the tournament was conducted in UAE because of the general elections in the country.