Indian Premier League stakeholders are in a tizzy as they may be forced to shift 20 IPL matches scheduled in Maharashtra out of the state following the petition in the Bombay High Court.
With just two days left for IPL 9 to start, officials say it will be a logistical nightmare for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and officials of the teams if the court orders the matches to be shifted.
For starters, preparation of the pitch takes three to four days.
Franchises based in the state — Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants — and Kings XI Punjab, who are due to play three home matches in Nagpur, are waiting anxiously for the court to decide on a PIL filed by Loksatta Movement.
The Mumbai-based NGO, citing the drought-like situation in the state, opposes the matches because of the lakhs of litres of water that will be used to prepare the pitches.
Saturday’s opening match is scheduled at the Wankhede Stadium with defending champions Mumbai taking on newbies Pune.
“The schedule was decided a month ago. This is beyond our control,” said an exasperated BCCI member. “There’s no way we can do this (last minute switch),” said another member, whose association is also hosting IPL games. “Even my state association started preparations a month ago to present the stadium in a nice way.”
Explaining the kind of preparation required, a Pune official said: “There will be too many logistical hassles. There are lots of permissions needed. Ticketing has to be taken care of. The ground has to be available. Hotel bookings and travel plans have to be made for the teams. Our preparations have been on for two months,” he said.
“It will be a massive issue for all three teams.”
Mumbai is scheduled to stage eight matches, including the final on May 29. Pune is due to hold nine matches, including the eliminator on May 25 and Qualifier 2 on May 27. Three matches will be played in Nagpur. An IPL governing council member explained the logistics: “First we have to search for home cities for the affected teams. Let the order come and we will then decide.”
The biggest challenge will be to find grounds that are ready to host matches at such a short notice.
The Kings XI can fall back on their home base Mohali but Mumbai and Pune will face bigger hassles if the court orders the games to be moved.
The IPL was shifted to South Africa in 2009 and part of the 2014 edition went to the UAE due to elections, but the official said the Board then had a month’s time.
Ranchi can be a substitute home venue for Pune because of the MS Dhoni connection. Other venues with decent facilities are Cuttack, Raipur and Dharamsala. Even Jaipur and Chennai are not scheduled to host IPL games as RR and CSK are suspended.
Pune can hope to attract a full house in Ranchi as it is Dhoni’s hometown. However, the last time it hosted an India game, the outfield was in bad shape.
“We have no news yet but the ground is in good shape because we were preparing for the zonal academy camp from April 21. In February, we hosted the India-Sri Lanka women’s matches as well,” a Jharkhand State Cricket Association official said. The outfield was poor during the February India-Sri Lanka T20 tie but the official said: “Now there are no such issues.”