IPL 2021 kicked off with a nail-biting encounter between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 9th. The matches entertained the fans at home during these challenging times and the BCCI organized the first half of the tournament.
Unfortunately, just before Match 30 of IPL 2021, Kolkata Knight Riders players, Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier tested positive for COVID-19. Soon, a few other players in Ahmedabad and Delhi also returned with positive COVID tests. Thus, the BCCI had no option but to suspend IPL 2021 indefinitely.
All players who participated in the IPLwill soon return home. The board has clarified that the tournament is not canceled but postponed.
The question now is, when will the second half of IPL 2021 take place? Here are the three possible windows.
3. IPL 2021 could be staged in the UAE after the ICC T20 World Cup
Many fans will know that the BCCI had named the UAE a backup venue for the ICC T20 World Cup 2021. Some reports have claimed that following the suspension of IPL 2021, the T20 World Cup will most likely be restarted in the Middle East.
If that is the case, the BCCI can plan the second half of IPL 2021 in the United Arab Emirates. Many IPL players will participate in the ICC T20 World Cup. Hence, the process of forming bio-bubbles will become a lot simpler.
The UAE also hosted the IPL 2020 season safely. If the ICC T20 World Cup ends around November 15th, the BCCI can stage the remaining IPL 2021 matches from November 25th. By increasing the number of double-headers, the board can complete the second half of the tournament in 15 days.
2. IPL 2021 could resume in September
The Indian cricket team will soon leave for the United Kingdom to play six Test matches. Team India will first take on the New Zealand team in the ICC World Test Championship Final. Following this, England will host India in a 5-Test series. The Test series between England and India will end on September 14th.
There will be a month's gap between the Test series and the T20 World Cup, which could be a window to stage the remaining IPL 2021 matches. The BCCI is reportedly looking at the September window to resume the 14th IPL season.
1. The IPL matches could be staged next January
The Indian cricket team is set for a tour of South Africa in December this year. The BCCI can work with CSA to prepone the tour a bit and end it by the first or the second week of January next year.
As of now, the Indian team does not have any series planned for February of 2022. Thus, the BCCI can utilize the mid-January window and conduct the pending IPL matches from the second week of January into February.
However, if BCCI takes this route, there won't be enough of a gap between the IPL 2021 final and the IPL 2022 mega-auction.
The eight existing franchises and the two new teams will not have much time to think about their strategies ahead of next year's season. This window should be viewed as a last resort.
Only if the IPL 2021 matches cannot be staged in September or November, should the BCCI consider restarting the tournament in January of 2022.