By Khurram Habib
The remainder of the 2021 Indian Premier League will be played between September 19 and October 15 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Indian cricket board confirmed on Wednesday.
“IPL will be held between September 19 and October 15,” Rajeev Shukla, vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), told IANS on Wednesday.
There are 31 matches to be played, after the tournament was suspended on May 4 due to Covid-19 positive cases in the camps of four of the eight franchises. The cash-rich league was suspended midway, after the completion of 29 matches.
The second half of the tournament, to be played in UAE, will however be too close to the start of the T20 World Cup that begins around mid-October.
Although the International Cricket Council (ICC) has not officially announced the dates for the T20 World Cup that immediately follows the IPL, October 18 is the date being bandied in certain quarters.
The T20 World Cup, which will be hosted by the BCCI, will likely be held in the UAE as well as another gulf nation, possibly Oman.
The BCCI has until June 28 to tell the ICC whether it is in a position to host the tournament as the Covid-19 pandemic is still not over in India.
The October 15 finish leaves only three days between the end of IPL 2021 and the start of the T20 World Cup, if it begins on October 18.
The ICC told IANS on Wednesday that there was no rule of a mandatory gap between a domestic tournament and an ICC tournament.
“We will release the dates and venue of T20 World Cup only in July. We cannot comment on it as of now. But there is no rule on the need of a gap ahead of an ICC event. The ICC needs 10 days to prepare the pitch and the ground ahead of an event. That too is a norm and not a rule,” said an ICC official.
“The rest of it is still being worked out between the BCCI and the ICC. We can talk about it only later,” the official said.
Asked if the gap will be too little for players to switch from IPL to T20 World Cup, Shukla said the small gap shouldn’t be a problem as the initial phase of T20 World is likely to involve non-Test playing nations.
“There should be no problem with the gap. The first phase of the T20 World Cup will comprise qualifiers [according to BCCI’s knowledge]. So the main teams like India and others will get sufficient gap,” said Shukla, implying that the non-Test playing nations could be playing the tournament first.
There are 16 teams in the 2021 T20 World Cup, including five non-Test playing nations.
Papua New Guinea, the Netherlands, Namibia, Scotland and Oman are also participating besides the 11 Test playing nations that includes Afghanistan and Ireland too.
The initial matches involving weaker teams could be hosted in Oman.
The ICC, however, said they couldn’t confirm this since it is still being worked out.
“The process is still being worked out. We cannot comment on it,” said the ICC official.
On India’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka in July, comprising ODIs and T20Is, Shukla said that it is still under works and a final decision would be take soon.
The broadcasters Sony Sports India, however, have already come out with the schedule stating that the series will begin on July 13 and ending on July 25.