The BCCI has announced that it will conduct the remainder of the 2021 IPL in September and October this year in the UAE. The decision was taken at a special general body meeting held virtually on Saturday. The BCCI also decided to “seek an extension” from the ICC “to take an appropriate call” on hosting the men’s T20 World Cup, originally scheduled in India between mid-October and November 14.
In a media release issued on Saturday, the BCCI said the decision to shift the IPL, which was suspended early May at the halfway stage, to the UAE was owing to the monsoon season in India which usually stretches between June and early October.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday announced to complete the remaining matches of VIVO Indian Premier League 2021 season in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) considering the monsoon season in India in the months of September-October this year,” the BCCI said.
There are several hurdles the BCCI faces in the limited window for the remainder of the IPL. Firstly, India’s five-match Test series in England is scheduled to end on September 14 in Manchester. Within a week after that England are scheduled to travel to Bangladesh followed by Pakistan for white-ball series that are expected to go on till mid-October. More than a dozen of England’s top white-ball players feature in the IPL which will leave many franchises anxious about their unavailability.
The other key challenge is the CPL, which reiterated on Friday while announcing the players’ draft that the 2021 edition will be held between August 28 and September 19. A lot of the top Caribbean players and many other big-name overseas players and coaching staff are involved in the CPL.
While the BCCI has opened a dialogue with the CPL to try and convince them to tweak their schedule, which could then allow players to move between the bubbles in St Kitts (the CPL venue) and the UAE quickly, it will not be an easy task. The West Indies international home season is packed with series slotted against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. Their home season is scheduled to end on August 24, only four days before the CPL starts.
At the time the IPL was suspended, there were still 31 matches, including the four playoffs, left to be played. The BCCI had decided to stall the IPL indefinitely because of a growing number of Covid-19 positive cases across four teams. With India continuing to be in the middle of a second wave of Covid-19, there were strong doubts about India hosting the second half of the IPL. Upon returning to Australia, Hussey said that he had doubts even about the T20 World Cup being held in India.
This will be the second successive year the UAE will be hosting the IPL. In 2020 the BCCI had conducted the entire tournament split between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Those three venues are likely to play hosts once again after the BCCI finalises the dates for the IPL, which remains its primary challenge now that it has announced the September-October window.
More to follow…
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo