Saurashtra Premier League uncertain amid COVID-19

SPL, a shot in the arm for local cricketers, was launched in 2019 with Cheteshwar Pujara as the star attraction.

Sorath Lions won the inaugural edition of Saurashtra Premier League.   -  Twitter@SPL_Twenty20

The Saurashtra Premier League T20 — inaugurated in 2019 and scheduled right after the Indian Premier League — is doubtful this year.

Though Rajkot is handling the COVID-19 crisis much better — only one reported casualty so far — compared to other parts of Gujarat, the Saurashtra Cricket Association is awaiting further guidelines from the government and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

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“Right now, who can tell whether it can happen this year or not? We will have SPL once things are normal. It depends on the guidelines, what BCCI is deciding, what’s the window we are getting. We have to wait and watch,” Himanshu Shah, Honorary Secretary, SCA told Sportstar on Wednesday.

“Our best effort will be to ensure that we have it this year,” he said.

The SPL is the youngest among the state leagues — others being Tamil Nadu Premier League, Karnataka Premier League and T20 Mumbai League. Last year, 85 players divided into five teams benefited with a purse exceeding Rs 1 crore.

Ranji Trophy 2019-20 winners Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Arpit Vasavada, Sheldon Jackson, Vishvaraj Jadeja, Jaydev Unadkat, Chirag Jani, Chetan Sakariya, Prerak Mankad and Harvik Desai were all part of the tournament.

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“Rajkot is doing better but getting players together is a concern. Even net practice is not allowed. The stadium is open for maintenance, that’s all. Till lockdown, our watchman was watering the ground regularly. But now, things are more under control,” added Shah while recalling day five of the Ranji Trophy final at the venue. “The virus came all of a sudden. We were all enjoying Ranji till March 12.”

The Ranji final between Saurashtra and Bengal was the last competitive cricket in India before the pandemic.

There is still no clarity on the fate of Irani Trophy 2020, scheduled to be held in Rajkot.

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