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Looking at Sept-October window for IPL 2020 - Brijesh Patel

Brijesh Patel, the chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council, says he is waiting for the International Cricket Council's (ICC) formal announcement on the T20 World Cup, one that's been pending for a while now, before preparations can get underway to host this year's edition. Speaking to reporters, Patel said: "We are ready to go ahead with the IPL. But we can start planning the schedule formally only after the offcial announcement is made on the T20 World Cup, which I'm expecting will arrive anytime soon. On our part, we've already earmarked the September-October window for the tournament to be played." The ICC was expected to take a final decision on the T20 World Cup on May 28 which then got deferred to June 10 and is now expected to announce in a month to give maximum chance for the event to happen in Australia.

Patel further added that plans are already afoot to host the league in the September-October window. "Right now, we're saying it's tentative because finalities of the schedule can only be worked out once official confirmations arrive. Talks are going on with the league's multiple stakeholders and we're all on board. So, it's a matter of time before we start putting things in place," the GC chairman said.

The senior cricket administrator says there are chances that the tournament can move out of the country too, if it is not possible to host it in India. "We have to watch how things are going to play out over the next one month from a Covid perspective. We don't mind shifting the IPL to another country, either in part or in full. There are other aspects to be considered here," he says. "Suppose we shift just the first leg out of the country, we will have to go through a quarantine when we fly there. But we may probably also have to go through another quarantine when we're back for the India leg, if Covid doesn't relent. Or who knows, by October things will be different. Let's see. Right now, we're not ruling out the idea of playing the whole tournament overseas," Patel said.

The tournament will have to begin in September and conclude in October because India is expected to travel to Australia the following month to undergo a quarantine before the Test series begins Down Under. "If the IPL has to begin in September, there'll be a threat of monsoon. Whatever the case, logistics will have to be worked out carefully. Whether in India or overseas, the tournament won't be played at more than two or three venues because it's only for television," says Patel.

The Emirates Cricket Board (UAE) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have both offered to host the tournament if the BCCI decides to shift it overseas. However, right now, UAE seems to be a more practical choice among the thinking heads in Indian cricket for a variety of reasons. First, the BCCI has already conducted a leg of IPL there, in 2014. Second, the grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are far away from the city. There are enough choices to reign in hospitality and the specified bio-secure zones. Lastly, the weather is likely to be more accommodating. "Also remember, wherever the IPL is played, it'll be played to empty stands. So, as long as it's available prime time for Indian fans, it shouldn't be a problem," Patel added. Broadcasters Star too, it is learnt, are in line with the idea and believe it doesn't matter if the tournament is held in India or overseas. "As long as the full tournament is played and is available to Indian viewers on prime time and there's no gap in the middle of the tournament because of a repetition of quarantine or such, they're (Star) going to be fine with it," say industry executives.

Meanwhile, with the Australian government deciding to allow limited fans to sporting events, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar feels the chances of the T20 World Cup have started to look bright again. After the announcement by the Australian government, there seems to be a possibility of conducting a World T20 in October. May be the teams will have to reach three weeks earlier, have seven days of practice games and also 14-day quarantine, Gavaskar said. If ICC believes that World T20 can happen, then having IPL looks dificult because it could only be held if World T20 is postponed but after the announcement by Australia PM Scott Morrison, IPL in October looks dificult. The staging of the T20 World Cup was linked with the IPL as it was believed that if the plug is in fact pulled off the ICC event in Australia, the BCCI has the right to pitch for this years IPL to be conducted during the same window.

Gavaskar is apprehensive about that window, and with Sri Lanka and the UAE pitching their interest to play host, the former India batsman feels it might be a good idea even if it means matches are played in empty stadiums. September you cant have IPL in India due to monsoon. But may be in Sri Lanka from early September with teams playing each other once instead of double header. Maybe you can think of that, Gavaskar said. Fans lift your game. The atmosphere is very different when they are present. Obviously, players will lose out on that. Also, they will be wary of a team huddle, also may be a first bump after a good shot. Dejection will be there. Youth are energetic lot and there is no outlet to spend that energy. How much exercise you do or spend time at the gymnasium, you want to play your sport - be it cricket, tennis or badminton.

Meanwhile Cricket Australia (CA) is more interested in having the Indian series going through the summer without any hitch than the ICC T20 World Cup. With their finances in horrible shape, the Indian series in Dec- Jan would net in excess of $300 million to CA while the ICC tournament will provide only $20m.

Moreover, the huge risk in hosting 15 teams for two months so early in October and without the full crowd is not a good proposition for CA. Hence CA would like to go with the wishes of the Indian Board about IPL and Indian series down under.

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