CHENNAI: Seven of the eight Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises are still waiting to hear from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) if players arriving from England on Thursday will be available for the first round of fixtures.
The BCCI has already made a request to the local health authorities if it can relax quarantine norms since they are arriving via a charter flight from another bio-secure bubble.
As per local regulations, at least six days of quarantine is mandatory to anyone arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the BCCI is understood to have made a request to reduce the number of days to three.
The seven franchises — Mumbai Indians don’t have a single player from England or Australia — are paying roughly Rs 1 crore to fly 21 players in the chartered flight.
The BCCI, in collaboration with the England and Wales Cricket Board, has made a special corridor which will see the players leave the hotel and reach Manchester airport without any outside contact.
Even at the airport, the immigration process has been made simple, meaning they won’t come in touch with any authorities as papers have been submitted in advance.
The players will fly in a fully sanitised plane, with flight crew also cleared to fly after multiple Covid-19 tests.
“From our end, everything is ready. We are waiting for approval from BCCI. A special bio-secure corridor has been created for their safe travel. They won’t come in contact with anyone outside the bio-secure environment. We are waiting for clarity on quarantine period,” Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan said.
Once they land in Dubai after a seven-hour journey, the franchises will send their respective team buses to the tarmac to pick them and head straight to the hotel, where they will undergo one RT-PCR test.
Once the tests come back negative, they will be cleared to enter the bio-secure bubble and resume training straight away, if the six-day quarantine is relaxed.
As mentioned in the standard operating procedures (SOP), the franchises have already informed the BCCI about the extensive plan put in place, but they are yet to get clearance.
In the SOP, the BCCI has stated that if the teams ensure a safe passage for players arriving from Caribbean Premier League and England, they may be allowed to participate in the IPL without the mandatory quarantine period.
However, with the local authorities not approving this, the BCCI has made a request to them to at least reduce the quarantine period to three days. The franchises are expecting a confirmation on Thursday, but as things stand, they are preparing for the eventual possibility of not featuring any of the arriving players in the opening days.
If the six-day quarantine is not relaxed, none of them will be able to take part in the first round of matches. But if it is reduced to three days, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders will have their first XI available.
Rajasthan would benefit immensely as three of their first XI — Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler — will be available. Bangalore can use Moeen Ali and Aaron Finch. Hyderabad can have David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. Kolkata too will be boosted by the inclusion of Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins.