Amid surge in COVID cases, BCCI weighing Plan B for home season and IPL

As per the original itinerary, the West Indies series is to be played across six venues - Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram.

India is scheduled to play its home season against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. (File image)   -  AFP

Amid the rising COVID-19 cases across the country, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is deliberating on 'Plan B' for the home series against the West Indies, Sri Lanka scheduled to be held next month and also the Indian Premier League (IPL).

As per the original itinerary, the West Indies series is to be played across six venues - Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Cuttack, Visakhapatnam and Thiruvananthapuram.

But in the current scenario, the Board is looking at the possibility of hosting the series in fewer centres in a bid to ensure a strict bio-bubble and limit air travel. 

Even for the IPL, the Board wants to keep a back-up option ready and is looking at the four venues in Maharashtra - the Wankhede Stadium, DY Patil Sports Complex and Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai and also the MCA Stadium in Gahunje, Pune.

Sportstar understands that Board executives had informal discussions recently with the Mumbai Cricket Association on the issue. 

Sources have indicated that as of now, there are no plans of shifting the tournament to the UAE, however, a final decision will be taken depending on the COVID-19 situation.

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The West Indies team is scheduled to reach Ahmedabad on February 1 and then undergo a mandatory isolation till February 3. While two training sessions are scheduled on February 4 and 5, the first game - which will be India’s 1000th men’s ODI - is to be played on February 6.

A section of the Board officials believe that if the ‘series is to go ahead’ as per schedule, then "it would be better to host" all the games at one, or at the most, two venues in a bid to limit air travel and keep the bubble intact.

So, with the teams stationed in Ahmedabad, the board might explore the possibility of staging a few more matches allotted to the Narendra Modi Stadium if the COVID situation does not improve drastically.

However, officials at the Gujarat Cricket Association confirmed that they are yet to hear anything from the Board.

A decision is expected by next week.

In February-March last year, Ahmedabad had hosted the day-night Test between India and England, which was followed by a five-match T20I series at the same venue. 

As of now, the IPL is expected to be begin on April 2, but the franchises are yet to hear anything formally from the Board about the venues or the schedule.

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