MUMBAI: The Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council chairman Brijesh Patel on Tuesday confirmed that the 2020 edition of the tournament is shifting to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the BCCI has requested the government of India for an approval on the same.
TOI understands that the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) hasn’t been “officially” notified on the matter yet as the said official letter is pending. A governing council meeting of the IPL is expected on July 24, following which an air of finality can prevail.
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Meanwhile, a day after the industry echoed broadcasters Star India’s sentiments on the proposed schedule missing out on the Diwali week, it appears BCCI has other plans to “accommodate” their biggest stakeholders.
The board is all set to allow following things: A) An early start to evening matches, possibly slated to begin at 7.30 pm IST; B) Advancing IPL by a week and beginning the tournament on September 19 instead of 26; C) A possible three-match white ball series versus South Africa in UAE; D) Combination of B+C – provided there is consensus within the BCCI.
White ball series against South Africa
The talk of the three-match series between India and South Africa is seen as a ‘catalyst’ in the wake of Star eyeing Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) home rights. If given the go-ahead, matches will be played in UAE to suit India prime time and curtail additional travel for the Indian team.
“The question is, will BCCI allow? Indian team hasn’t played any cricket since March and is required to play a two-month long IPL followed by two months in Australia, which is a demanding tour. Why would you risk fitness when they’ve not even stepped on the ground for so long, especially when BCCI president says he expects Virat Kohli to win in Australia. If you want them to do well, then given them time to recover from this four-month isolation,” say those tracking developments.
Nevertheless, the value of South Africa’s bilateral rights can be seen at 30% of BCCI’s rights value for bilateral cricket. At these given estimates, Star getting to host India vs South Africa in UAE (as South Africa’s home venue, citing Covid) will end up boosting the broadcaster’s revenue in an otherwise dull market.
“If BCCI gives a go-ahead to the series, it’s a win-win for Star. The only question is will the Board rush its players into a series so early after such a long break? Ideally, the team would have required a one-month camp to get back to full fitness, which was the earlier plan,” sources say.
Early start to IPL matches
Allowing an early start to the IPL match timings, possibly at 7.30 pm IST (6 pm, UAE time) is most likely to be given the nod and franchises are not opposed to the idea either.
Once again, it was the broadcaster pursuing the idea of an early start to IPL the last two years, a request that wasn’t given in to because of technical reasons.
However, with the IPL expected to be played in UAE this year, and matches expected to begin at 6pm local time, the IPL governing council may allow the change for this season.
Tournament can start earlier than 26th
There are provisions BCCI may keep in front of Star to choose from considering it is “helpless” and cannot change the date of the IPL final – currently slated for November 8 – owing to commitments made to Cricket Australia.
The BCCI is convinced that advancing the start of IPL to 19th is possible, if Star agrees. “They want to avoid the 4 pm matches, right? So, this option is available to them, to advance the start by a week. They should take it,” sources say.
If the BCCI gives Star the choice to choose between the three-match white ball series vs SA or advancing the start of IPL by a week, the ball will be in the broadcaster’s court to take the call.
“If Star is so keen on an extended window for IPL – right now, 60 matches in 44 days – they should make an official request for a week’s advancement, no?” say those tracking developments.