The Bombay High Court’s verdict has come as a jolt for the BCCI. Despite the promise of using non-potable water, their bid to retain all matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur did not pass muster. To make matters worse, their backup plan has yet to find favour with the franchises, leaving this edition of the IPL on shaky ground.
It is learnt that the BCCI has been left with limited options and are considering three venues --- Raipur, Vizag and Dharamsala --- to host the remaining matches of Mumbai Indians and newly-formed Rising Pune Supergiants.
Earlier, the Board was also considering Ranchi, Indore and Kanpur as backup. But the dates were clashing with Kumbh Mela in Indore, and, like Maharashtra, Ranchi and Kanpur have also announced drought-like situation. The Pune franchise would have been happy to play at Ranchi, as CSK used to, given their skipper MS Dhoni’s connect with the town.
Mumbai would have ideally liked to play in neighbouring Gujarat because of the convenience as well as it being the industrial headquarters of the franchise. However, MI’s options are limited because the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad is under redevelopment and their own ground in Baroda does not have floodlights.
However, they have an alternative in Rajkot’s Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium. It is playing host to the Gujarat Lions but SCA secretary Niranjan Shah said on Thursday that the association was willing to accommodate. “Our facility is ready, we don’t have matches here after May 3, if needed we can help out,” said Shah.
At the time of going to Press, none of the parties had received a copy of the court verdict.
In all 13 matches, including the Eliminator, Qualifier (both in Pune) and the Final (Mumbai) will have to be played at alternate venues. The Board will play host to the three knockout games, including the final. Three of the affected games involve KXIP and they have the option to play at Mohali, their home ground. Hence, as per a Board member’s estimate, the loss for Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants on account of shifting is likely to be R10 to 15 crore.
“We are still not aware of the stipulations and riders that come with the order. We know only the operative part. Once the written order is issued we will take further steps… if we need to appeal or if the franchises want to appeal,” a top BCCI official said.
The teams and the IPL governing council have until April 30 to make arrangements to shift to an alternative venue.
(BOX) Money matters
The BCCI, in its argument on Thursday, had proposed to provide 40 lakh litres of water to the drought affected areas. The BCCI’s counsel had also said that the franchises would provide R5 crore towards the CM’s drought-relief fund. However, the proposals were made with the expectation that all the games would be allowed to be played at the original venues. The court’s decision to shift the games has put a question mark on the offer.