Amid a global pandemic, we are finally getting more information about IPL 2020.
This postponed version of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will begin on September 19. The first game will be played in the UAE. The finals are set to be played on November 8. IPL chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed the schedule on Friday. Currently, the Indian board is still awaiting a green light from the government in order to take the IPL out of India.
Patel wrote “We have written to the Indian government. We are expecting a reply soon. Once it comes in, an IPL governing council meeting will be called next week to finalize all the other details.”
BCCI has created a 51-day window for IPL, the same as last year, after the postponement of the T20 World Cup in Australia. Broadcasters have advised they are still wary about airing doubleheaders, something that will have to be a regular occurrence in this short season. They say they are unable to get good viewership numbers for the afternoon matches compared to those that are played in the evening. This is why, typically, doubleheaders are scheduled for weekends.
The UAE believes they should be allowed to have limited crowds at IPL-13 due to the fact they are only seeing ~250 new COVID-19 cases each day. Patel commented on this, saying, “We will seek the advice of the UAE government if we can have any crowds.”
Teams are expected to be leaving their home bases by August 20th before heading to the UAE. This gives them exactly four weeks to prepare.
KXIP co-owner Ness Wadia says that this year’s IPL will be the most-watched event in the event’s history. This means that this year especially IPL betting is likely to have some major wins for those who take part.
Wadia also advocated for daily coronavirus testing of players throughout the duration of IPL 2020.
“Strict safety protocols have to be put in place both for off-field and on-field activities to make the IPL safe and successful. They should not be compromised at all,” Wadia said, “I would want as much testing as possible and preferably daily. If I was a cricketer, I would be very happy in getting myself tested every day. There is no harm in it,” he added.
Many believe it is likely that the IPL will not be able to create a “bio-secure” environment for its players. The England and Wales Cricket Board have been able to do this, however, during the ongoing Test series against the West Indies. This has been accomplished by having both teams stay in the area that all games will be played.
This type of preventative measure becomes much more difficult for an eight-team event like the IPL. In the UAE, the only thing required for a player to be allowed in a game is a recent negative test result for COVID-19.
“Bio-secure is something that should be very seriously considered but I don’t know if it can be implemented in an eight-team tournament. We are waiting for the SOPs from the BCCI. UAE also has a very high testing rate (472,575 per million) and they have all the technology at their disposal. The BCCI will need the help of the local government in ensuring adequate testing is done,” Wadia said.
“From the logistics perspective, we have done IPL in the UAE before. But this time you have to add a lot more protocols. I am sure the BCCI will do the needful. There is also enough knowledge to be gained from football leagues like the EPL on how they are going about their job in COVID times.”
Finding sponsors could be an issue for many teams currently due to the economic toll that COVID-19 has taken on the world. Wadia, however, believes that the benefits of advertising throughout the IPL this year may be too good for sponsors to miss out on.
“I would be surprised if this IPL is not the most-watched ever. I am talking worldwide and not only India. Therefore, the benefit to sponsors would be tremendous and I am sure they will see it that way. The benefit to them will be more than previous editions considering more people will tune in to watch fresh, live sports.”
Wadia also says he hopes the BCCI will compensate all teams playing this year fairly in the event they will not be able to play before a live audience.
“The IPL will bring much-needed optimism to the pessimism we live in today. Credit to the BCCI to have a found a window in the current scenario. I do hope that the BCCI will look at compensating all teams (in case there is no gate money involved).” Wadia added.