Indian Premier League in UAE with eye on T20 World Cup
The Indian Premier League will resume in the United Arab Emirates, most likely in mid-September soon after the Test series versus England gets over.
This would be the second consecutive year that the UAE would play host to the league, which was suspended earlier this month owing to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases inside the bio-security bubble.
Sources have confirmed to The Telegraph that the cricket stadiums in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi have been finalised for the remaining 31 matches after talks with the Emirates Cricket Board and Abu Dhabi Cricket. That the UAE was the likely venue was reported by this newspaper on May 20.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has earmarked a month-long window from September 15 to October 15 for the IPL. An official announcement is expected to be made during its special general meeting on May 29.
All this has been finalised assuming that the pandemic situation in the country will improve, which would pave the way for the T20 World Cup in India in October-November. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has already named UAE as a back-up venue.
Sixteen teams will participate in the global showpiece event with the qualifiers running from October 18 to 23.
The ICC board will meet on June 1 to discuss India’s host status for the T20 World Cup though a decision is unlikely to be taken before July. The SGM is also expected to discuss the roadmap for the ICC meeting.
The BCCI held informal discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a possible tweak to the itinerary for the five-Test series in England, which ends on September 14, but such plans didn’t materialise. Hence the decision to start the IPL a day or two after the Test series ends.
“The Indian and England cricketers can directly fly into Dubai from England. Since it will be a transfer within the bio-security bubble, players can participate without going through the quarantine period. In any case, the number of Covid-19 positive cases has gone down drastically in Dubai and the city has been opening up its facilities,” sources told The Telegraph.
“The UAE has been very stringent on compliance of vaccination for its citizens and those arriving here. For matches in Abu Dhabi, the same process as last year could be followed where teams staying in Dubai could visit and come back on match days after going through Covid-19 tests,” sources said.
Despite Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, maintaining that England players are unlikely to feature in a rescheduled IPL, the Sourav Ganguly-headed BCCI remains confident that an amicable solution can be worked out.
The West Indies players though will miss the first part of the tournament in the UAE since the Caribbean Premier League will be held from August 28 to September 19.
The real obstacle will be if the ICC decides to move the T20 World Cup to the UAE. The UK has been discarded as an optional venue for the IPL because of escalating costs, higher taxes and unpredictable English weather. Not many are keen to shift it to Sri Lanka either.
“We have made it clear that in case the ICC shifts the T20 World Cup out of India we have to hand over the grounds to them by October 1,” sources in the UAE said.