CHENNAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is planning to host the Women’s T20 Challenge in New Delhi in the window between May 24-30 with discussions underway whether to include an extra team or not. The tournament as usual has been slotted during the period where the Indian Premier League reaches the business end with the final likely to be played under lights at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
It is understood that the BCCI even thought of hosting these matches in Ahmedabad alongside the IPL play-offs. But since it is going to be played behind closed doors and the need to create a separate bubble meant, the BCCI had to look at a different city. Delhi, which is hosting only eight IPL matches, has been identified as there won’t be any issues with regards to creating a bio-bubble.
The Delhi leg of the IPL finishes on May 8, following which the women’s teams will assemble in the city, where they will undergo the mandatory quarantine before resuming training. With regards to overseas players’ participation, the BCCI is likely to write to other boards to check if they’ll be available as Covid-19 numbers are increasing in India.
The BCCI had plans to increase the number of teams to four this season as it was keen on bringing Australia, New Zealand and England players, but that seems unlikely. Previously, players from Down Under have expressed interest to feature in the Women’s T20 Challenge, but that hasn’t happened over the last couple of years because of different reasons. Last season, it coincided with international commitment with Australian players even making their displeasure known in public.
With no clashes in schedule this time, the BCCI was hopeful of bringing these players, but the house seems divided with regards to their participation. If these players come on board, the BCCI can even look at increasing the number of teams to four, which will only help the tournament grow, but given the Covid-19 complications, whether a new team is introduced this season is remains to be seen.
“The idea is to expand the tournament, but this might not be the ideal time. One needs to factor in the increasing Covid-19 numbers. If top players turn up, it will only increase the profile of the tournament, but with so much uncertainty around, if they pull out in the eleventh hour, it will put the whole event in jeopardy. So keeping it to three teams is being seen as the best option,” an official in the know told this newspaper.
Last season Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity contested in the T20 Challenge with the teams facing each other once before the final. Players from West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and Bangladesh had taken part in the tournament that was held in Sharjah.