Mini IPL may not take place this year

The BCCI hierarchy is trying to make the Mini IPL happen in 2016, but there are multiple obstacles which seem virtually impossible to overcome. The first and foremost issue is of creating a three-week window to host what could well be a 15-match miniature version of the IPL, with eight teams split into two groups playing a group stage followed by the semifinals and the final.

BCCI President Anurag Thakur addressing the media at the end of the four-day First Annual Cricket Conclave in Dharamsala on June 24. It was announced that a Mini IPL would take place in September. But many obstacles have cropped up.   -  PTI

At the end of the first Annual Conclave of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in Dharamsala last week, the BCCI had announced its plans to stage a “Mini IPL overseas in September”. However, a combination of logistical and technical issues may result in the plan being shelved this year.

Sportstar understands that the BCCI hierarchy is trying to make the Mini IPL happen in 2016, but there are multiple obstacles which seem virtually impossible to overcome. The first and foremost issue is of creating a three-week window to host what could well be a 15-match miniature version of the IPL, with eight teams split into two groups playing a group stage followed by the semifinals and the final.

The BCCI on Tuesday announced the itinerary for the home series against New Zealand. The first Test is scheduled to begin in Kanpur on September 22, exactly a month after India’s tour to the West Indies gets over. As a result, the 30-day window appears to be too less to host the Duleep Trophy and the Mini IPL.

The BCCI has already announced that the Duleep Trophy, to be played under floodlights with the pink ball, will feature all of the country’s top players. If the Mini IPL is to be staged before September 20, it will mean the Duleep Trophy will have to overlap with the West Indies series. However, with the India A team touring Australia from early August to September 4, it could make the initial phase of the Duleep Trophy utterly meaningless.

According to a BCCI insider, if it has to choose between the Duleep Trophy and the Mini IPL, “this year, it will prefer the Duleep Trophy, since we will have to test the pink ball.” Besides, the insider also admitted there were “plenty of technical issues” that could prove to be a hindrance in staging the Mini IPL this year.

The IPL player contracts specify that they are only for the 2016 IPL and offshore exhibition matches, if any. As a result, the franchises will have to renegotiate with the players if a Mini IPL has to be held. The broadcaster’s issue will be even more complex. If the BCCI chooses to invite tenders for a broadcaster for the Mini IPL, it could invite legal action from Sony Pictures Networks, the official IPL broadcaster.

A section of BCCI officials believes that in such a case, it’s best for the BCCI to wait for another year since the IPL broadcast deal is anyway up for renewal. “It would be apt to ensure all the peripheral issues are addressed rather than doing anything hurriedly,” a BCCI member told Sportstar, preferring anonymity. “With a long season of Test cricket at home, it’s best if we prioritise the Duleep Trophy instead of running against time in organising the Mini IPL.”