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IPL extravaganza in the UAE

Filed on August 18, 2020

It will be the third time that the world's richest cricket tournament has had to be held outside its home country; second in the UAE after 2014.

The 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin from September 19 and the final will be played on November 10 in the UAE (subject to government approval).

The Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) fans can breathe easy. The Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) has received awaited permissions from the Indian government to conduct the IPL 2020 edition in UAE. An 'in principle' government approval has come for the for the BCCI to take the IPL to the Gulf nation and the board is now free to officially sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB). 

This will also set the ball rolling for the smooth conduct of the tournament. According to reports, IPL Central team, along with some of the franchise representatives, will now also visit the UAE to conduct a survey of the venues - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The IPL franchises have also requested BCCI to relax norms of quarantine for the players coming directly after participating in the CPL 2020 and England vs Australia series.

The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) list a six-day quarantine for players arriving from those countries while rules in the UAE allow direct entry upon testing negative on arrival. If the players from England have to undergo a six-day quarantine, they will be unavailable for the first four-five days of the tournament, which begins on September 19.

The IPL governing council is considering a relaxation in quarantine rules for the players coming in from the Caribbean Premier League along with English and Australian cricketers after their one-day series following requests from the franchises.

"While everyone wanted the IPL to be held in India, and we explored home-IPL creating a bio-secure bubble, it wasn't considered safe," a BCCI official said. A plan was drawn up to stage IPL at three-four venues in Mumbai-Pune and in three venues in Gujarat-Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. The proposal was sent to the government, but given the health crisis in India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not accepted.

LONGER IPL

This year, IPL will be staged four days beyond the usual 49-day window. BCCI constitution does not allow that, but it will write to the Supreme Court to make allowance this time. "The longer window is to avoid the number of double headers with the harsh weather conditions in UAE during afternoons. We will now have only 10 double headers," the official said.

The night matches will begin at 6pm local time (7.30pm IST) to suit the needs of the broadcasters. BCCI had resisted advancing the timings as franchises preferred an 8pm start for better ticket sales. "This time the question of local spectators does not arise. The change will help the broadcasters with better ad sales as the matches otherwise get too late," the official said.

CROWDS

At the moment, BCCI is looking to start the tournament as a closed-door event. But if the UAE government permits, a collective decision will be taken on whether to permit spectators, and how many.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is hopeful spectators will be allowed. "As hosts, Emirates Cricket Board will work closely with the UAE government to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed; this includes fan attendance at all stadia. We want our Asian diaspora as well as the other expat and Emirati sports-loving fans (in the UAE) to be able to watch the action from the stands," ECB secretary general, Mubashshir Usmani, said.

The franchises will soon be informed about Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed in the UAE. The squad strength has been limited to 24 players each, and Covid-19 substitutes will be allowed.

WOMEN'S T20s

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India's women cricketers will not miss out on a T20 Challenger this year, which is tentatively scheduled from November 1-10 in the UAE, the final fortnight of IPL 13. BCCI also plans to hold a training camp in October for its players, all currently confined to their homes due to the lockdown. If the health situation and government permission allow, the possibilities of holding a limited-overs series with South Africa in October will be explored.

The T20 Challenger, expected to be converted into a women's IPL in time, could see limited international participation as it clashes with the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia. It will only be a three-team event this year, with four matches to be played, including the final.

IPL will go to the UAE for the second time, after the first half of the 2014 edition was held there as the tournament clashed with India's general elections.

- Source: InsideSport


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