Having taken the decision to host the bulk of the Indian Premier League matches in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India faces a huge challenge to execute their ambitious plan.
With limited time on hand, the BCCI has to quickly finalise the venue for the first leg, which coincides with the general elections, will be held in the country. The opinion is still divided over having it in the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh or South Africa. A final decision will be taken on Friday.
South Africa should be the ideal choice: the SA Board offers the experience, expertise and the infrastructure. But with the BCCI determined to play one part of the IPL in India, the choice of the venue could be made after taking into account the logistics and costs. The title sponsors' interest will also be a huge influence on the choice of the venue as well.
The South Africa Board did a superb job of managing the event in 2009, but may not be cost effective compared to West Asia or Bangladesh, both in terms of travel and stay. It's learnt that the authorities in UAE are offering the Board a lot of sops, to ensure smooth movement and staging of the event there as is the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
However, the issue with these two places is the anti-corruption aspect. The IPL needs a good image after the betting and spot-fixing controversies of last year. To hold it in the UAE, the BCCI will have to put in place massive security measures.
The decision to play the second phase of the IPL in India was taken after a meeting of the BCCI top brass after the dates of the 16th Lok Sabha polls were declared on Wednesday morning. Present at the BCCI meeting in New Delhi were president N Srinivasan, senior vice-president Rajeev Shukla, secretary Sanjay Patel, IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal and IPL CEO Sundar Raman. The elections will be held on nine days between April 7 to May 12 and the counting on May 16.
Biswal announced a wish to host more than 60 per cent of the matches in India. It will difficult to execute though, given that the BCCI will only have around two weeks of the tournament at home with the final likely to be played on June 3. Realistically, if scheduled well around half of the matches could be held in India.
At the meeting with the franchises on the sidelines of the IPL auction, the owners were asked to share their preferred choice of venues. Teams with a good spin attack preferred UAE, while teams with good pace attack were happy to play in South Africa.
Apart from travel cost, the advantage being mentioned with UAE is that the playing conditions are similar to India. It will make it easier for the players to adjust.