After postponing IPL 2021 halfway due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are currently looking for the window and venues to host the remaining tournament sometime later this year.
The board, the league’s Governing Council (GC), franchises, broadcaster and different stakeholders are unanimous in settlement to this impact.
The remaining half of the IPL – ‘Part-2’ as some are calling it already – will definitely not be held in India, no matter an obtainable window, enhanced bio-secure bubbles or potential enchancment within the Covid-19 scenario.
The BCCI organised the IPL in UAE last year and the entire season went virtually flawless. Covid-19, in a country as densely populated as India, is and will remain a huge challenge in the near future.
While there’s no doubting that the BCCI would want to finish the IPL 2021 season in India itself, a report in Times of India suggests that Australia and England are being considered as potential options alongside UAE.
“It has to be played overseas. Certain suggestions have already been heard. The BCCI just has to make up its mind,” top sources in the board were quoted as saying by TOI.
Three suggestions have come up over planning Phase-2.
The Tried and Tested UAE
Move the league to UAE, a tried and tested venue that worked successfully in 2020, where the T20 World Cup can also be hosted post Phase-2. After India’s tour of England gets over on September 14, the players participating in the IPL can head to the UAE, finish a week’s quarantine and finish the remaining 31 matches before the World Cup begins around October 22.
“If the World Cup is shifted, the whole scheduling will get re-worked anyway,” said those in the know before adding: “weather will be a problem because September remains a very hot month and UAE only begins to cool down October onwards.”
England- Second Option
BCCI can also consider hosting the remaining matches of IPL 2021 in the UK while shifting the T20 World Cup to the UAE. Sourav Ganguly can use the end of the English summer – end of September and early October to conclude the tournament.
Incidentally, the Indian team will travel to England next month for the World Test Championship and remain based there until the completion of the five-match Test series.
“The weather will be good for cricket. It will suit the broadcaster too because time zones can be adjusted and overseas players from outside of India and England will be willing to travel,” the sources added.
IPL 2021 Down Under
Another option – if BCCI decides, and the government of Australia revises its policies in four months from now – is moving the T20 World Cup scheduled in India this October-November to Australia.
India can make this barter and host the 2022 edition, which is scheduled in Australia for now.
“Cricket Australia certainly won’t mind this exchange if their government allows. And since international players will anyway arrive there for the World Cup, Perth – which is three-and-half-hours ahead of Indian Standard Time – can host Phase-2 to cater to Indian prime-time,” sources said.
“This can happen only if the Australian government changes its mind and if broadcasters are willing to agree,” they added.
Whatever the decision be, it doesn’t look like the IPL will return to India this year as the overseas cricketers, who rushed back to their homes in the wake of the ongoing crisis in the country will not want to come back to India in a hurry. And the Sourav Ganguly-led body will not want to host the tournament without the overseas cricketers.