NEW DELHI (TIP):
Ending weeks of speculation and uncertainty, the Indian cricket board (BCCI) announced on Wednesday that the seventh season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will be held in three phases from April 16 to June 1. The tournament will start in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and end in India but the final schedule is yet to be announced since there is still no clarity over a possible second phase to be held either in Bangladesh or India. That decision will depend on permission from the home ministry following complexities over providing security in an election year.
The UAE will host the first 16 matches from April 16 to April 30, following which the tournament will come back to India or shift to Bangladesh from May 1 to May 12. The third and final phase, including remaining league matches and playoffs, will be held in India from May 13 onwards when the polling ends, the BCCI said. As reported by TOI, IPL teams are not in favour of hosting the majority of the tournament outside India for fear of a sharp fall in revenues from gate receipts. Thus, efforts are underway to seek a “favourable consideration” from the government for the second phase too.
The home ministry had earlier told the BCCI that it would not be possible to provide security for the matches during the elections. “For May 1-12, the BCCI has approached the ministry of home affairs seeking permission to play IPL matches in India in cities where the polling has concluded in the respective states. The BCCI is extremely conscious of the various complexities involved but hopes for a favourable consideration.
The BCCI will abide by the decision of the authorities in this regard. If it is not possible to play in India during this period, IPL matches will be held in Bangladesh and the BCCI is thankful to the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government of Bangladesh for their support,” board secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement. Patel said that from May 13 onwards, once the polling has been concluded in all states, the remainder of the tournament will be played in India. There will be no matches scheduled on the (vote) counting day — May 16.
“The BCCI will take the advice of the authorities if any further restrictions are required around the counting day,” Patel said, thanking the Emirates Cricket Board for its support. A detailed schedule is expected soon. This will be the IPL’s second foray into international territory following the move to South Africa during the 2009 general elections. The South Africa choice did the rounds this time too but logistics and cost issues dictated the move to the UAE and possibly Bangladesh.
India has stayed away from the UAE since the match-fixing scandal broke at the turn of the millennium, playing only two ODIs against Pakistan – both in April 2006 – in Abu Dhabi. Welcoming the move to shift the first leg of the IPL to the UAE, world body International Cricket Council (ICC) said the BCCI’s decision “is great news for the people of UAE and the region”. ICC chief executive dave Richardson said, “The BCCI’s decision to stage the first part of the IPL 2014 season in the UAE is great news for the people of the UAE and the region.
It will complete a remarkable season of cricket in the UAE, which has already seen the successful staging of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014. “This news comes on the back of the onfield success of the UAE national team which has qualified for both the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand and has the potential to propel cricket’s profile to new heights in the country.”