In normal year, it’s the time when Cricket teams start their season after hosting and participating in high profile Cricket leagues. But in 2020, it’s almost been 4 months since we witnessed an International Cricket match or a high profile T20 League match. Even, Indian Premier League, World’s most affluent and successful cricket league was postponed amid the CoViD-19 outbreak.
The tournament with its viewership all across the globe, was scheduled to get rolling from 29 March before the pandemic hit the world. This is the reason that the BCCI is now brooding over shifting the marquee tournament abroad amid the worsening CoViD-19 situation in India.
However, BCCI has not lost it all on IPL yet as the developments in the last few weeks have surely given a boost to the chances of IPL. With both ACC and ICC uncertain on the future of Asia Cup and World T20 2020 respectively, BCCI might utilize the September-October window in staging the marquee tournament- if they get cancelled.
Various Cricket Boards like UAE and Sri Lanka have already offered their helping hand to BCCI for hosting the tournament. Though BCCI has refrained itself from such proposals so far, newest in the ring to throw its hat is New Zealand. According to a BCCI official, New Zealand Cricket Board has shown its interest in hosting the IPL 2020.
“Staging the event in India has to be the first choice but in case it is not safe to have it, then we will look at the overseas options. UAE, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand have also offered to host the IPL,” a senior BCCI official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
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“We will sit down with all stakeholders (broadcaster, teams, etc) and take a call. The safety of the players is paramount. There will be no compromise on that,” the official said.
New Zealand is one of the most successful countries, by far, in controlling the deadly pandemic and this is the reason BCCI might look the Island nation as one of the probable options abroad. However, the timing and travel issues will also have their say. The New Zealand’s standard time is 7:30 hr ahead of IST and this will force Indian audience miss a huge chunk of action even if they start as early as 12:30. Also, apart from Hamilton and Auckland, all other stadiums will need an air travel to challenge the bio-secure environment.
In the 12-years history of the tournament, only twice the BCCI has organised the IPL abroad. Once in 2009 when the entire tournament had to be shifted to South Africa due to general elections in India. And again in 2014, when initial phase of the tournament was played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the same reason.
This time also, UAE will be hottest favourites along with an economic option Sri Lanka. BCCI is supposed to take a call on IPL 2020 in its next general meeting. The meeting will also decide the fate of VIVO – a Chinese Mobile Company and BCCI sponsor- along with some other companies like Paytm with Chinese investment.