IPL 2021 will resume in the UAE on September 19
The suspended edition of the Indian Premier League will resume in the UAE on September 19 with the final to be played on October 15.
The BCCI has identified a 27-day window to complete the 31 remaining matches, after IPL 14 was suspended on May 4 as an intense second wave of the pandemic hit India. There were Covid-19 cases in four different IPL bubbles at the time.
The resumption plan hopes to hold the final on October 15 to coincide with the Dussera festival. It also happens to be a Friday, a holiday in the UAE. The Indian team completes its Test tour of England on September 14 (World Test Championship final, June 18-22 vs New Zealand, followed by five Tests vs England).
“We are making provisions for some extra days to complete the tournament in consultations with the ICC over the T20 World Cup dates so that there are fewer double headers,” said a BCCI official.
Double headers would not only compel players to play in the UAE heat, but also affect viewership numbers.
Leading BCCI officials including president Sourav Ganguly and Chairman Brijesh Patel are currently in the UAE to finalise plans. Primarily on the agenda are talks with Emirates Cricket Board and the UAE government to secure bio bubble arrangements like in 2020. Bringing back crowds to the stadiums are also on the table.
The biggest hurdle that remains is the availability of international players. Board officials are in talks with the Caribbean Premier League to advance its tournament end from September 19 by a few days to allow the nine leading West Indies players, the likes of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russel amongst others, and overseas CPL stars like Faf Du Plessis to play the IPL. BCCI officials are confident that seasoned T20 stars from Afghanistan and Bangladesh like Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman will return to play. Officials admit it’s unlikely that the English cricket board will release its players for the league considering the T20 World Cup will be around the corner. This is likely to leave sides like Rajasthan Royals (Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler), Kolkata Knight Riders (captain Eoin Morgan) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy) more affected than the others.
The other hurdle in what will be a late and unprecedented change to the international calendar is working closely with the ICC to ensure preparations for the T20 World Cup (October-November) are not affected. BCCI has time till June 28 to decide, but it’s expected that the World Cup will move out of India to UAE. The ICC is already in talks to add Oman to its contingency plans to host the qualifying rounds before the World Cup proper gets underway in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, also the host venues for the IPL.