Chennai’s loss is Delhi’s gain.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has shifted two knockout matches of the ongoing T20 league out of Chennai and awarded them to Delhi. Feroz Shah Kotla, which has never hosted these games before, will be the venue on May 21 and 22. Eden Gardens will host the third playoff and the final.
Chennai’s inability to host Sri Lankan players, due to widespread anti-Sinhalese sentiment and the Tamil Nadu government’s apparent stand on it, had meant that teams playing these two knockout games there would have had to leave out their Sri Lankan players, often the lynchpins in their squads.
There were reports that franchises not allowed to field their Sri Lanka players in league matches played in Chennai were unhappy and were not willing to keep them out for the playoffs. Barring Kings XI Punjab, all other teams have players from the island in their ranks.
In its meeting on April 22, the board had deferred the decision hoping to convince the Jayalalithaa government to change its policy.
However, when the players’ security couldn’t be guaranteed, it decided to shift the matches to Delhi. “The issue was discussed in detail with BCCI president N Srinivasan before it was decided to shift the venue,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said.
A senior board official revealed that Delhi was picked as the venue because of the early monsoon expected during the period down south, especially in Bangalore, which was also in the race to host the games.