IPL 2020: Asia Cup window presents outside chance to reschedule tournament
The chances for the IPL to be held in the third week of April look very bleak at the moment. In July-August, there will be monsoon in India. This leaves September as the only alternative, right before the T20 World Cup.
As the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has forced the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to postpone its meeting to finalise the possible multiple venues of Asia Cup T20 which is supposed to be hosted by the Pakistan Cricket Board, it has presented an opportunity for the IPL Governing Council and the BCCI to look for options.
The chances for the IPL to be held in the third week of April look very bleak at the moment. India is under a three-week lockdown which ends on April 14 and things are no different in places such as the UK and Australia.
There was a semblance of hope among the players and the fans as BCCI were supposed to connect with the franchise owners via conference amid COVID-19 pandemic, to take stock of the situation and possibly come up with at least some light at the end of the tunnel. But, that got a setback when the Board had to cancel it.
To state the facts, hosting the tournament in April or even May looks a far shot. Even if the situation begins to improve in a couple of weeks, which looks unlikely, countries across the world - India included - cannot be expected to open their borders anytime soon.
Even when new cases will not be detected over a few days, countries will be ginger in easing out the lockdown and the travel restrictions. Giving foreign nationals visas and facilitating them to tour across the country then will be a bit too much to ask. And to allow the crowd in the stadiums, possibly not a question that deserves an answer at this point.
In July-August, there will be monsoon in India. It will rain every second day and rain, that will be there to stay. When the IPL would have to be curtailed to fit it in the FTP, a host of cancelled matches will certainly not help the competition keep its edge.
On top of that, several international fixtures are scheduled during that time. Even if the franchises are ready to go on without some internationals, the Caribbean Premier League scheduled in August means that it will not be happy days for both the tournaments.
While lucrative offers might mean that the IPL succeeds in getting most players on board, it will leave the West Indian players in a real quandary. Moreover, it will get quite dirty, which all stakeholders will want to avoid.
Pakistan are slated to host this edition of the Asia Cup, but in the prevailing political climate, India touring its neighbours is not a realistic option. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had already made it clear that India would not travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup in September but would be willing to play against them at any other venue.
But, under changed circumstances, the BCCI can give scheduling IPL in place of Asia Cup a shot. It is not a great starting point that the BCCI and the PCB don't share the most amicable rapport, but with PCB not even too keen on keeping the broadcasting rights, there is room for some discussion.
Pakistan was also considering the option of requesting the ACC executive board to allow it to host some matches of the Asia Cup T20 against other teams like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Afghanistan at home even if it is decided to hold the lion's share of the tournament at a neutral venue. So, if India choose to go the IPL route, an Asia Cup without the Men in Blue also remains an option.
But, as an BCCI official was quoted saying, “At the moment, you can’t start thinking about anything. This (the problem) has to end and only then you can go back to the drawing board.”
©Cricket World 2020