India’s T20 World Cup goes to the UAE
The Indian cricket board informed the International Cricket Council Board that it would not be able to stage the October-November tournament at home due to the pandemic
The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to move the October-November T20 World Cup to the UAE given the pandemic situation at home was conveyed to ICC at its Board meeting on Monday. With this, the UAE becomes Indian cricket’s home away from home for the rest of 2021 with the remainder of IPL also to be staged there in September.
The preliminary phase of the World Cup is expected to start on October 17, a few days after IPL ends. To ease the burden on the pitches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah where 31 IPL games will be played over 25 days, it has been decided to stage the initial round of the 16-team world event in Oman. Eight teams—Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, Oman and Papua New Guinea will battle it out for the four qualifying spots in the Super 12s.
As per the tentative plan, starting October 24, the 12 teams will then square off at the three leading stadiums in the UAE. The final will be played on November 14.
A month back, BCCI had sought time to try and keep the T20 World Cup in India, with nine venues shortlisted to host it. But India’s current disconnect with the world due to international travel restrictions and scientific data not ruling out a third wave of infections closed the door on any such plans.
“After much deliberation, it has been decided that safety of players and other stakeholders is of paramount importance, and keeping that in mind, it is best that we shift the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to the United Arab Emirates and Oman,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote to the state associations.
“On the brighter side, the BCCI remains the host for the T20 World Cup and with its prior experience in hosting IPL in UAE, we can say with certainty that it will be hosted smoothly,” BCCI president Sourav Ganguly wrote to the members.
India would have gone seven years without hosting a world event on its soil as the next opportunity will come only in 2023 when it stages the ODI World Cup. The last ICC event in India was the 2016 T20 World Cup.
The shift to the UAE solves the tax exemption problem for BCCI. ICC wanted the host board to bear the tax liability if its government refused a waiver. That liability would have amounted to over Rs. 900 crore, and over Rs. 225 crore in case of a partial waiver. Though BCCI retains the hosting rights, moving the World Cup out of India addresses the immediate need to resolve the tax dispute. In the long term, BCCI officials want the world body to adjust the tax shortfall under event costs. “We will put our foot down and tell ICC to not be rigid on tax exemptions as ICC events when staged in India are a lot more cost effective than countries outside Asia,” a BCCI official said.