The 2020 edition of the IPL being played entirely in the UAE is now a distinct possibility, and the BCCI has earmarked a tentative window between September 26 and November 7 for it.
The fate of the IPL’s 13th edition, which was deferred following the COVID-19 outbreak, has been linked to the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be played in Australia from October 18 to November 15.
The October-November period is the only available window to fit the IPL into this yea
On Friday, the BCCI’s Apex Council discussed the possibility of the IPL being played in the UAE in its entirety. It is understood that the BCCI would still prefer conducting the tournament in India, but the Covid-19 situation – the number of infections in the country are on the rise – has meant that the UAE has been identified as the next-best option.
A final decision will be taken by the BCCI once the ICC announces the likely postponement of the men’s T20 World Cup, scheduled between October 18 and November 15 in Australia. The ICC Board is scheduled to have a call on July 20 to discuss the matter, and a final decision on the World Cup is likely to be taken then.
It is understood that the BCCI has written to the Indian government seeking permission for the tournament to be shifted to UAE and also get the necessary travel permission for the players and officials of the teams.
It is also understood that the main reason for marking November 7 as the date for the IPL final was to ensure Indian players get enough time to travel to Australia for the four-match Test series, set to begin in December.
“We are ready to fully support the IPL if it chooses to come and play in the UAE. We will provide all the support concerning the protocol and government permission required to host the IPL. We are waiting for written confirmation from BCCI,” said Mubashshir Usmani, ECB secretary.
If the tournament does shift to the UAE, it would be the second time for the IPL here, after the first 20 matches of the tournament were staged in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in 2014 because of the general elections in India.
The tournament is expected to be played at the three main grounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, while it is not clear whether the oval at the ICC Academy in Dubai, too, could be used as one of the venues with the tournament likely to be played behind closed doors.
As far as the franchises are concerned, they discussed playing in the UAE during an owners’ call on July 13. With most of the global pool of players homebound due to the pandemic, the franchises are primarily concerned about the players getting enough training ahead of the tournament, which could go on for at least six weeks.