IPL 2021 postponement could shift T20 World Cup to UAE

The BCCI has initiated discussions and the ICC is expected to take a call on the matter after its meeting in June.

The Indian cricket team during the five-match T20I series against England at home in March.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was hoping to conduct the Indian Premier League (IPL) successfully, which would eventually pave the way for the T20 World Cup to be held later this year. But multiple COVID positive cases in the bio-bubble forced the BCCI to postpone the IPL after the first leg of games.

Last week, the BCCI General Manager, Game Development, Dhiraj Malhotra had indicated that the T20 World Cup could be held in the United Arab Emirates if the COVID situation does not improve. And on Tuesday, hours after the IPL was postponed, multiple sources in the BCCI confirmed to Sportstar that the Board is keen on taking the T20 World Cup to the UAE, even though an ICC decision is expected in June. “There have been initial discussions as well,” a Board source said, indicating that it is ‘more or less’ decided that the tournament cannot be held in India in the current scenario.

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“Some boards may be apprehensive about sending the teams and that being an ICC event, we will have to go to the backup,” a Board insider said.

The Board officials also believe that with three grounds available in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, no air travel is needed and that would help them keep the bubble intact. “The hosting rights will be with the BCCI, so we will have to ensure that things go smoothly. These are still early days, but that’s how things stand,” he added.

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With some of the states expecting a third wave of the pandemic in September, the Board does not want to take a chance. Initially, the Board had shortlisted nine venues for the tournament and a call was to be taken by the ICC team. They were supposed to visit India on April 26, but with the country witnessing a second wave of the pandemic, those plans were put on hold.  After Malhotra’s statement, ICC sources had indicated that UAE will indeed be a ‘fall back option’. However, an ICC spokesperson had said: “It's too early to make a call. We are monitoring the situation and are in contact with the BCCI.”

But after the bubble disaster in the IPL, all roads could eventually lead to the UAE.

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