In a major boost to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the Maharashtra government has allowed the teams to train in Mumbai beyond 8pm, clearing the decks for the city to host the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) fixtures despite the state imposing stricter restrictions till April 30 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In a letter addressed to Hemang Amin – the interim CEO of the BCCI – the Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation, Government of Maharashtra, on Monday, has given permission to host the 10 matches and the practice sessions “subject to scrupulous adherence to the bio-bubble.”
“Accordingly, permission has been requested for teams and IPL staff be allowed to practise inside the grounds after 8pm and they may be allowed free movement from the ground to their respective hotels after the said time.
“Accordingly, permission is hereby accorded for the said request subject to scrupulous adherence to the bio-bubble as mentioned in the earlier letter from the State government dated 24th March, 2021 as well as other conditions mentioned in the said letter,” the letter added.
The letter has also been marked to the Municipal commissioner of Mumbai and also to the Commissioner of Police.
After a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, the Maharashtra government announced stricter restrictions – including total lockdown during the weekends. Among the relevant measures announced included a night curfew from 8 pm to 7 am and a weekend lockdown – from 8 pm on Friday to 7 am on Monday.
That had led to question marks over the Mumbai leg, even though the BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly told Sportstar on Sunday that there won’t be any changes to the schedule.
Starting from April 10, Mumbai will host 10 IPL fixtures – involving Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Capitals, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders and Punjab Kings.
The officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association, too, are confident of hosting the tournament smoothly in a bio-bubble. A couple of days ago, 10 groundsmen of the Wankhede Stadium had tested positive for COVID-19. Recently, a couple of more people at the stadium and some members of the BCCI’s event management team have contracted the virus.
But the host association and the BCCI have confirmed that things are under control and since the players are inside the bio-bubble, there is no reason to press the panic button yet.