The IPL is all set to begin on September 19 and the Indian cricket board is yet to release the scheduled tournament. While amid all kind of obstacles the BCCI is prepared to run the league, why the schedule is yet not disclosed is a major question. A lot of speculations are making headlines, a lot of sources are being quotes but nobody has been able to mention any exact date of announcement of the schedule of IPL 2020.
What was ‘almost’ decided?
In the middle of this month when Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain on the occasion of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement wrote, “Looking forward to meeting at the toss on September 19”, it considered as an official confirmation of the opening match of IPL 2020. Since then a lot has happened and spoken about except of the schedule.
Overseas players availability
Players busy in the Caribbean Premier League and England-Australia series will be missing the first few games. While the franchises are well aware of this, the BCCI is trying to adjust the schedule according to the availability of such players. The Indian cricket board wants to keep the schedule flexible so that the IPL teams depending on overseas players majorly do not have a lot at stake. “So there is a possibility that matches in the first three or four days can be allotted to teams not majorly dependent on players flying over from the UK,” sources told the Times of India.
Then there comes the possibility of a player from any team testing positive and then the said player will have to go into quarantine for 14 days. His team member sharing the same bio bubble will be going into quarantine for the six-day mandatory period as well. The sources opined, “If that happens, can that team play on those six days? Possibly not. But the tournament will go on, so it’s necessary to work on the possibility of keeping a schedule flexible enough where matches can be brought forward and delayed, as and when necessary.”
Separate protocols in three IPL venues
Few days back there was reportage of the IPL officials setting a meeting with the local governments in the UAE. This is because Dubai & Abu Dhabi have separate protocols related to Covid-19. The rising case of coronavirus in the UAE is a reason for that. There are travel restrictions between the two cities and arrival to Abu Dhabi means mandatory rapid tests. On the other hand, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are based in Abu Dhabi. Teams might have to change their base if any such situation arrives. Due to the strict protocols the BCCI is unable to declare the schedule yet and trying to fine a solution.
According to InsideSport, the BCCI may decide to divide IPL 2020 in two legs depending on venues. There are no restrictions to travel from Dubai to Sharjah and this gives an option to the IPL governing council to play the entire first leg of the league in Dubai and Sharjah.
The second leg may see a game hosted only in AbuDhabi followed by the playoffs and finals in Dubai again. But as mentioned earlier this means at least two teams have to change their base for the initial stage of the league. The portal mentioned that the BCCI officials were recently in the UAE to meet the local officials to finalize the schedule after working on the porotocols. Incidently Sheikh Nahyan who is the UAE’s minister of culture & youth development is also the chief of the Emirates Cricket Board.
Three days ago, reports claimed that the meeting has been done and the dates are about to be announced. “Just small pieces of the jig-saw puzzles are remaining and we should resolve them and release the schedules soon. ECB chief’s support in the matter was of great help. We will incorporate changes in the schedule as per our discussions with the local authorities”, one of the BCCI sources was quoted.
The latest blow
When everything seemed sorted, well almost, two players from Chennai Super Kings tested positive for COVID-19. Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaekwad along with multiple staff members tested positive which came as a huge blow for the entire league. Whether the BCCI will decide to end the 13th edition of IPL after being hit by the pandemic threat even before the start of the tournament remained unanswered till the BCCI president shared his thoughts on the same on Sunday. Sourav Ganguly said to the Times of India, “I cannot comment on the situation of CSK. We will see if they can start as per schedule. I hope the IPL will be conducted well. We have a long schedule for the tournament and I sincerely hope everything will go on just fine.”
After Ganguly’s remark, it is clear that the league is very much. So, in all probability now the BCCI is working on the final and flexible schedule considering the local protocols of venues. But now the board also has to keep the condition of the CSK camp in mind. The CSK may not be in a position yo play the first fixture of IPL 2020 although Rohit Sharma was certain about in it in the middle of August.
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