Former India cricketer Brijesh Patel (Photo | V Pushkar, EPS)
Former India cricketer Brijesh Patel (Photo | V Pushkar, EPS)

Meeting on March 14 to decide the fate of IPL

With more coronavirus cases coming out in the open, the IPL governing council to consider proposals of holding matched behind closed doors.

CHENNAI: As the Maharashtra government considered the proposal to host all IPL matches in Mumbai behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the BCCI called an IPL Governing Council meeting on Saturday.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah will be present in the meeting to be chaired by IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel at the board's headquarters in Mumbai.

Though a final decision on matches in Mumbai is likely to be taken on Thursday, it is understood that the state governments of Rajasthan, Delhi and Karnataka are exploring the option of giving a go-ahead to the IPL if it is played behind closed doors.

Jaipur, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru — host cities — have already reported positive coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, there were two new cases reported in Mumbai. This leaves Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Guwahati as IPL host cities to not have any reported any case so far.

Although the central government hasn't issued any restrictions or advisories to the BCCI with regards to the IPL, the onus rests on the respective state governments to take the final call on whether to host it or not.

There are concerned voices in the BCCI that even if one state puts a restriction, they expect the others to follow suit.

“There hasn't been any advisory from the government and if there is one, we will follow it. But for a tournament that is still weeks away, there is no need to take an immediate call. We will discuss the pros and cons at the meeting. If you look at it, cricketing events across the globe are going on as per plans,” Patel told this newspaper.

Though the IPL has come under the scanner, the Road Safety World Series currently underway at the Wankhede and DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai hasn't seen any restrictions from the local government.

Even though only retired cricketers are featuring in the tournament, the matches have attracted good turnouts thanks to the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara among others.

The BCCI believes that with all these activities going on, the IPL is being dragged in only because of its popularity.

There are six more matches remaining in the Road Safety World Series with Pune set to host four of them.

Moreover, the BCCI officials also point out that Indian Super League matches have gone ahead without anyone raising similar concerns, especially at a time when the number of cases is only increasing.

“There are events happening now, which nobody talks about. But for a tournament that is still three weeks away, everyone wants to stop it,” a BCCI official said.

While talks of postponement of the IPL aren't being discussed as of now, the franchises believe there is not much that they can do. “We have very little say with regards to what the governing council decides. But if they decide that matches will be played behind close doors, then so be it. At least, the season will go ahead. There will be losses, but it is better than not playing at all,” a franchise official said.

As reported by this newspaper, the BCCI believes it can wait until the last minute before taking any decision. But there is acceptance of the fact that their hands will be tied on that front.

The New Indian Express