Chances of staging the Indian Premier League this year seem remote but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is considering the August-September window in case the country recovers from the deadly COVID-19 outbreak in time. The BCCI had postponed the IPL to April 15 in the wake of the outbreak but with more positive cases being reported every passing day, chances of holding the tournament in April seem bleak.
The BCCI, as part of its contingency plans, has kept open the option of rescheduling the IPL any time between late August and early October (before the T20 World Cup in Australia). This of course hinges on the hope the disease will be contained in the next four months. Depending on how it plays out, a plan will be redrawn. The IPL organising team will be looking at all the possibilities, from the participation of foreign players to a truncated tournament with only India players. The IPL is a massive revenue generator for the BCCI and is crucial for the wellbeing of Indian cricket.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, and we will take a call accordingly. We are looking at a window in August-September,” said a BCCI official who didn’t wished to be named.
As per the original schedule, India are to play the Asia Cup in September, host England for three ODIs and three T20s. Before going into the T20 World Cup, India are also scheduled to play three T20Is in Australia. India’s three-ODI tour of Zimbabwe is also set to be rescheduled. As for other teams, England host Pakistan (ends on September 2) and then Ireland (ends September 15). South Africa’s tour of West Indies ends on August 16. Australia aren’t playing any matches during this two-month period. They will play a T20 series against West Indies and India in October, just before the start of T20 World cup.
The Indian board is hopeful of pulling off this contingency plan as both the Asia Cup and the IPL has Star Sports as the common broadcaster. The BCCI will have to take the lead in convincing the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to postpone the Asia Cup to a later date. The broadcasters would stand to lose a lot more if the IPL is called off for the Asia Cup.
Even if the BCCI finds a 37-day window for a full IPL or a smaller window for a truncated tournament, they will still have to identify venues that won’t be affected by monsoon at that time.