Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni while leaving from Chennai to UAE. (TOI Photo)
MUMBAI: The Indian Premier League (IPL) has officially moved to the UAE, the franchises have flown out, the bio-bubble is coming up as planned and the various teams handling operations for the BCCI are busy connecting the dots. The schedule for the tournament, however, is not out yet.
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma congratulated his Chennai Super Kings counterpart MS Dhoni on his Team India retirement last week and said, “Looking forward to meeting at the toss on September 19”, which suggested that the schedule is more or less ready. Then, why this delay? It is because keeping the pandemic in mind and staying in line with the primary policy for this year’s IPL – that safety and security of every individual will remain paramount each time – BCCI is looking at possibilities of putting a “dynamic scheduling in place”.
The first week of the IPL could possibly see the English and Australian players missing, because post the conclusion of the white-ball series in England, the players will land in the UAE only around September 17 or 18 following which a week’s quarantine will come into effect. “So there is a possibility that matches in those first three or four days can be allotted to teams not majorly dependent on players flying over from the UK,” sources said.
Then, there is the possibility of a player from any team testing positive during the tournament. The said player will have to go into quarantine for 14 days, but it will also result in his teammates – or those sharing the same bio bubble – go into quarantine for the six-day mandatory period and once again go through the three mandatory PCR tests.
“If that happens, can that team play on those six days? Possibly not. But the tournament will go on, so it’s necessary to work on the possibility of keeping a schedule flexible enough where matches can be brought forward and delayed, as and when necessary,” they added.
The second week of the IPL is considered most necessary for the tournament every year primarily from the viewpoint of keeping viewers glued.
“A thorough build-up to the IPL every year often results in the first week of the tournament being a hit and obviously getting lapped up by the viewers. The second week becomes important because the emphasis then is to ensure the same kind of enthusiasm remains, because from the third week onwards, teams are already starting to battle for the playoffs and the points table becomes a talking point. So, structuring the second week of the tournament while keeping flexibility in mind is necessary,” BCCI sources said.
That aside, UAE will be relatively hot until early October. The organisers expect the schedule to be out anytime this week. Only after the schedule is released will the match-officials, television crews, commentators and analysts start planning their trip.
“The first schedule was prepared early this year keeping the March-April-May window in mind, but now with the change in destination and the months, there’s an effort to try and schedule as many double-headers from the second week of October onwards so that the afternoon matches are played in better temperatures,” say those in the know.