Is India game for IPL in the UAE?

The eight IPL franchises are eagerly waiting for the Standard Operating Procedure from the BCCI to combat the Covid-19 threat, writes Tehelka Bureau

New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has finalised the rescheduled window for Indian Premier League (IPL) from September 19 to November 8 in United Arab Emirates (UAE), pending government approval.

IPL Governing Council Chairman Brijesh Patel had recently confirmed that BCCI had sent acceptance letter to the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) on their proposal to host IPL 2020 in UAE. The ECB had reportedly sent the proposal to the BCCI in April. Now finally after endless speculations, the BCCI accepted the proposal to host the IPL in the UAE.

“Yes, we have sent the acceptance letter to the Emirates Cricket Board and both the boards will be working together from now on to stage the tournament,” the dashing former Indian batsman was quoted as saying by Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times in its July 26 edition.

The eight IPL franchises, meanwhile, are eagerly waiting for the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) from the BCCI to combat the Covid-19 threat and it is set to be a major topic of discussion when the event’s Governing Council meets in a few days’ time.

The members of  IPL T20 management, IPL GC member, franchise representatives were expected to fly for recee in the first week of August to decide on the entire operations and way-forward on the league.

With the postponement of the ICC T20 World Cup, the BCCI was planning aggressively to have an IPL in the United Arab Emirates provided the central government green-lights their request for a shift due to the rising cases of Covid-19.

“There will be three principal points on the agenda and that will primarily be discussed as and when the GC meets,” a senior BCCI official was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.

The primary points are as follows:

Shifting to UAE, dates, venues, matches: Once they get the necessary approvals from government departments, the BCCI will inform ECB (Emirates Cricket Board).

“As far as I know, they are not curtailing the tournament. We will have all the 60 matches in the old format where teams play 14 games,” a senior official of one of the popular franchise said.

The duration of the tournament will be between 44 to 48 days depending on the double headers that the BCCI allots. In the original schedule, there were only five double headers slotted on Sundays. However, under current circumstances, there may be a few more, media reports pointed out.

SOP for teams, bio-bubble, training facilities: There are three grounds available in the UAE — Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi) and the Sharjah ground, media reports pointed out.

It is learnt that the BCCI will be renting the grounds of the ICC Academy for training of the teams.

The ICC Academy has two full-sized cricket grounds along with 38 turf pitches, 6 indoor pitches, a 5700 square foot outdoor conditioning area along with physiotherapy and medicine centre, the reports highlighted.

“The teams that will be stationed in Dubai can practice at the ICC Academy by paying a fee,” the senior official said.

The teams staying in Abu Dhabi (one and half hours from Dubai) can train there.

There won’t be too many net bowlers allowed in case teams have sufficient extra players in the squad.

In Dubai, as per the current health protocol, if people are carrying a negative Covid-19 test report, there won’t be any need for quarantine but if they are not, they will have to undergo
a test.

Also there is DXB app (similar to Arogya Setu) in India which players and officials need to download.

While it is not possible to create a bio-bubble that England created for the visiting West Indies team making hotels (Hilton Group) part of the stadium premises in Southampton and Old Trafford, the measures will be strict.

“The hotels where we book rooms, the floors that will have our team members will be a sanitized areas and that will be done in consultation with hotel authorities,” a franchise official was quoted as saying.

If commercial flights are allowed, most of the franchises will be flying out from the fourth week of August as they are unanimous on a month-long camp before the tournament starts rolling.

Issues with broadcaster

There will be deliberations on the duration of the tournament which is the marquee event in Star Sports’ kitty considering they paid ₹16,347 crore for the deal.

Discussions are expected on the timing of the night matches — whether they should be held as at usual 8 pm IST (6.30 pm Dubai time) or be advanced by half an hour, media reports said.

In case the tournament starts between September 26 and 29 and goes on till November 14 (Diwali), double-headers might not exceed more than seven which will be good news for broadcasters, the reports  added.