Truncated IPL 2020 options: How about a knockout tournament?
- If the situation permits only a few matches, the knockout format could be tried out by IPL organizers.
- With just eight teams taking part, the tournament could be completed in flat seven days.
Along with other major sporting events across the globe, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has also fallen prey to the Coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 edition, which was earlier scheduled to start on March 29, has now been pushed back to April 15. Considering the current scenario, with the virus showing no signs of settling down, the start of the event even on the rescheduled date seems rather tentative.
In the wake of IPL's much-expected postponement, BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly has admitted, in a rather straightforward manner, that if the tournament indeed does go ahead, it will be a truncated one.
"It will happen (shortening of the IPL), because if it is April 15, then, in any case 15 days are gone, it has to be truncated. How truncated, how many games, I can''t say at the moment," Ganguly was quoted as telling the media last week.
Ganguly further confirmed that in a meeting between the franchise owners and the BCCI top brass, six to seven options were discussed, which also included a shortened IPL.
"We met with the owners, to tell them how it can happen and where do we stand at the moment. At the moment, it is just postponed. We will assess the situation," Ganguly had stated, adding, "It will be reassessed every week. I can''t say at the moment (about any deadline). I has to be worked around. As much as we want to host the IPL, we also need to be careful about the security."
Among the possibilities being discussed is playing a higher number of double-headers so that more games can be held in a shorter duration of time. Also, the number of venues could be cut down to only three or four (or even fewer), as a result of which travel and people contact can be reduced significantly. Further, there is every possibility of the games being played behind closed doors even if the April 15 deadline is met.
Knockout format? Why not!
In the worst-case scenario, if the situation permits only a few matches, the organizers could also explore the option of playing the tournament in the knockout format. The format has been successfully used by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the Champions Trophy, which was earlier referred to as the ICC Knockout Trophy.
With just eight teams taking part, the tournament could be completed in seven days flat and thus can be played at one or two venues. As per the knockout format, the eight teams will face an opponent in the first round, which, in practical terms, would be a quarter-final. And, the winners of these games will make it to the semi-finals, which will be followed by the final.
Such a format would not only reduce the number of matches drastically, but also bring down the risk of spreading the Coronavirus infection as people contact and travelling would be reduced to a minimum, and the concept of social distancing will also be given a boost. Of course, it would result in massive losses, but considering the extraordinary circumstances, such a short tournament is mandated as cancelling the league would lead to even greater losses.
As Ganguly was himself quoted as saying,
"Our priority is safety and that’s why we decided to postpone it. We will see how things go and then get a better idea (about the venues)."
Other options being explored
In case the situation does improve over the next few days, a few other options that are being reported can be considered. The first is of the event starting from April 16 and going on till the end of May. Here, 60 matches can be played -- 17 afternoon matches and 14 evening games per franchise.
The other option is of a 42-day event with 21 afternoon matches. Further, if the tournament begins on April 20, and goes on till the end of May, 44 matches will have to be played in 42 days, with ten matches played per team. Other options possibly being explored in the April 20-May 24 window include a 44-match tournament or a 32-match one, with seven matches per franchise in the group stage.
If the tournament does not get underway even at the start of May, there could be a scenario of playing 32 matches in a month, with six matches being played in the afternoon.
Current status of Coronavirus
The total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in India, which seems to be spreading rather rapidly, is presently reported at 195. This includes 25 foreigners.
“Four deaths (one each) have been reported in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement. Globally, the death toll has crossed 10,000.Published 20 Mar 2020, 15:46 IST