CHENNAI: The newly-built Sardar Patel Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad is likely to host the Syed Mushtaq Ali knockout fixtures after the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) expressed an interest to host them. With the stadium scheduled to host two Tests and five T20Is against England in February-March, the BCCI believes these matches would provide an ideal opportunity to test the nature of pitches.
The Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s is scheduled to begin on January 10 in six venues and though the BCCI has not confirmed the venues as yet, an official word is expected in the next couple of days. Unlike the previous editions, the T20 tournament this time would see the Elite and Plate teams compete separately which will be followed by a knockout phase. As reported earlier, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Vadodara will most likely host the league phase. The indications from the BCCI is that all the venues except for Mumbai is locked as there are still doubts whether the city would be able to host the matches as Maharashtra hasn't relaxed lockdown norms. Mumbai, Maharashtra and Vidarbha have not even resumed practice and a board official indicated that a call on the city being a venue isn't confirmed as yet.
Chennai will play host to the Plate division, which will involve eight teams. Last season, 38 teams were divided into five groups with two comprising 7 teams and other three eight. The top two made it to the Super League comprising 10 teams which was followed by a semifinal. With 30 Elite teams (including two who gained promotion) pooled together in five groups comprising six teams and eight in Plate division, the Super League could still continue.
But there are logistical issues that needs to be sorted. For instance, teams would undergo a Covid-19 test upon their arrival in the host city on January 2, with two more lined up on 4th and 6th. Only if all three return negative, they will be allowed into the bio-bubble, where there will be a test every five days. While this isn't an issue for the BCCI, their biggest challenge is moving the teams to a different city for the knockouts. Which is why it is deliberating whether to have the Super League or not as it would require shifting 10 teams. Creating an air-bubble is difficult as it has to create six different ones and even a slight breach could affect the tournament.