Breaking: IPL 2020 to be played in the UAE - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah starting end of September
The IPL has been penciled in from September 26 to November 7 with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah set to be the main venues.
Shortly after the ICC formally announced the postponement of the 2020 T20 World Cup originally scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November, it has been confirmed that IPL 2020 will be held in the UAE.
The BCCI had already chalked out the plan for the league to be held in the UAE. Despite speculations being rife, the governing body had not been able to announce it because of the impending decision on the T20 World Cup. Within hours of the announcement by ICC, the IPL Governing Council Chairman Brijesh Patel has confirmed that IPL 2020 will be played in the UAE. The detailed announcement of the same will be made shortly.
Although nothing is cast in stone as yet, it is likely for the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League to be played between September 26 and November 7. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have been identified as the three main venues for the competition. It remains to be seen whether the ICC Academy ground will also be used for the competition.
"We were waiting for the ICC to officially announce [the postponement]," Patel told ESPNcricinfo. "We have applied [for permission] with the Indian government. Should get it."
A call on whether or not spectators will be allowed inside the venues has not been taken yet and the decision will depend on the regulations of the UAE government. The possibility of a few spectators being allowed in the grounds with a cap of around 10,000 though cannot be ruled out.
Ever since the IPL had to be first postponed until April 15 from its original start day of March 29 and then suspended indefinitely, the BCCI, the IPL governing body, the franchises, the broadcaster and all the other stakeholders had been trying their best to make IPL 2020 a reality, albeit a truncated version of it.
But the developing situation of the Covid-19 pandemic did not allow them to do so. The cases in India have since been on the rise (past the 1.25 million mark), but with international travel restrictions in place until a few days ago, hosting the Indian Premier League in some other country was also not feasible.
However, as countries have succeeded in fighting the pandemic, a few nations have slowly begun to lift the restrictions which allowed the BCCI to look for options elsewhere. The United Arab Emirates has been able to combat Covid-19 better than most counties with a total of 57,734 cases as of Thursday, July 23. 50,354 of these have recovered, leaving the country with less than 10,000 active cases and 342 deaths.
Apart from the UAE, Sri Lanka and New Zealand had also expressed their willingness to host the cash-rich League. The proximity of several cricket stadiums with nearby hotel facilities in the UAE and the logistical convenience meant that the Emirates Cricket Board clinched the deal. What further acted as a comforting factor is that a part of the IPL was already hosted in the UAE in 2014 due to the Indian General elections.
Those aware of the internal matters of the IPL say that the fixtures of the league have almost been finalized. The only bone of contention between the broadcaster and the IPL Governing Council is whether or not to extend the IPL for another week after November 7. The Indian festival of Deepawali is on November 14 and if the IPL is extended by another week, it will allow the broadcasters to cash in on the festive season, allowing them to make up for their losses with a premium on advertisements.
However, this will be tough to materialise as India are scheduled to tour Australia shortly after the IPL finishes. It is likely that the Indian players will fly directly from the UAE to Australia, where they will have to abide by the quarantine protocols and will have to spend a minimum of 14 days in isolation (likely at the Adelaide Oval) before the first test kicks off on December 3.
As per reports, the franchises will camp in the UAE one month in advance of the date on which the league begins to allow all its players enough time to practice. The reason behind the move is that players, particularly in the coronavirus affected countries, have not been able to train properly, apart from light workouts individually.
Given that each team will travel with a touring party of around 20-25 members, including the squad players and the support staff, there will already be around 300 people on the plane to the UAE, when the broadcasting team and the technical team is added to the list. Hence, the broadcaster is mulling 'commentary from home' as was experimented successfully in the recent 3TC fixture in South Africa.
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