CHENNAI: In case the BCCI manages to find a window to squeeze the suspended IPL 2021, the United Arab Emirates is being seen as the safest host and is the preferred option for the franchises. Although England is still being seen by few as another alternative, it is understood that the IPL's top officials want to host the tournament in the Gulf region. They are drawing up a plan which will be up for discussion at the special general meeting on May 29.
With the Future Tours Programme packed in the coming months, the BCCI is aware that it will be a difficult task to resume the IPL. However, it hasn't given up hope and is exploring the possibilities to slot the tournament. With the possibility of hosting the event after the T20 World Cup all but ruled out because of a crowded international calendar, the BCCI is now looking at September as the only possible window.
As things stand, the plan involves too many ifs and buts, with none in the BCCI certain whether any of the plans can actually go beyond paper. Unlike last year when the BCCI used the postponed T20 World Cup slot, there isn't any opening this year and it will need the help of other member boards to finish the IPL, which was suspended after 29 matches in the wake of several Covid-19 positive cases in multiple teams.
The IPL's governing council led by chairman Brijesh Patel and COO Hemang Amin are understood to be devising the alternate plan. They are looking at a maximum of 18 days to complete the remaining 31 matches, but will at least need five-six days before the start of the tournament, meaning a minimum of 25 days. What is making it complicated is the Caribbean Premier League - it runs till September 19 and India's tour of England is not going to finish before September 14, unless there is a change in schedule. While the BCCI has established contact with their English counterparts about a tweak in schedule, Cricket West Indies hasn't been reached and it is going ahead with its original schedule.
With the ICC board meeting scheduled for June 1, there are indications that the BCCI will speak to the member boards and will present them the dates. But there are multiple challenges, which the BCCI has to tackle. In fact, the fate of the IPL depends on other member boards.
First and foremost, the BCCI will check the availability of the overseas players, following which it has to take a call on the host country. With T20 World Cup on the horizon, the BCCI officials admit teams like Australia, England, and New Zealand may not release their players. Moreover, it expects even a few players to pull out because of the workload and bio-bubble life.
With regards to the venue, although UAE is the safest option, the conditions will be extremely hot in September where the average temperature is 40 degrees. This will be hard on the teams that will play the afternoon matches on double-header days. A cramped schedule will also ensure fewer recovery days before each match day.
As widely being reported, the UK also seems to be a favourite option for a few in the BCCI, but the weather will be an issue. The second half of September sees moderate rainfall and considering it is the most expensive option between the two, franchises are not keen on taking any chances.