IPL franchises have been left unhappy over the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) recent decision to host the 14th edition across six cities. The board veered from the initial plan of staging the tournament in Maharashtra and Ahmedabad.
The league stage of IPL 2021 was originally supposed to be held in Mumbai and Pune, with the playoffs taking place at the refurbished Motera.
However, according to latest reports, the Indian cricket board has shortlisted six cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata – for IPL 2021. While the other five centres had been agreed upon earlier, Mumbai is the latest name on the list.
The new arrangement hasn’t gone down well with franchise officials. They will now not only have to travel extensively, but have also been left in a fix after signing players best suited to the earlier venues.
“Obviously, it’s scary. The earlier idea of hosting it in one or two cities sounded far better. After all, the 2020 edition was conducted between three venues and it went well...Franchises had started preparing, thinking it was only going to be between Mumbai and Pune, with the playoffs in Ahmedabad. Those plans change now. Franchises will want to know more and that will happen soon,” franchise representatives told TOI.
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world, IPL 2020 had to be moved to the United Arab Emirates. The 13th edition of the cash-rich league was played across three venues – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – with home and away venues shuffled among the trio.
IPL 2021 will be played in the same format, say sources
There were initial talks of IPL 2021 taking place in a cluster-caravan format. Teams were supposed to be divided into two groups, playing a number of matches at the same venues across two cities before being re-shuffled and moved to two other cities.
A source privy to the developments has now confirmed that IPL 2021 will follow the same format. The only change might be that more than one team will be lodged in the same city to make bio-bubble logistics seamless.
“The format of the tournament will not change. It’s the same home-and-away format, with each team hosting seven and travelling for the other seven. That’ll mean a total of 60 matches, like it is conducted every year. The grouping of teams is only to ensure that preparing bio-secure bubbles becomes easier and there’s less confusion,” the source explained.
As per the latest IPL 2021 schedule, matches will start from April 9 and will continue till the first week of June. While matches in Mumbai will be held behind closed doors owing to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, the other venues could permit fans upto 50 percent of their respective capacities.