The fourteenth edition of the Indian Premier League has been suspended by the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) due to the spread of COVID-19 cases. The decision was announced today, after the news of two players testing positive made the headlines. These two players are Amit Mishra; the veteran legspinner who represents Delhi Capitals and Wriddhiman Saha, the wicketkeeper-batsman who plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The decision was unanimously taken in a joint meeting between the Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPLGC) and the BCCI on Tuesday, the 4th of May 2021. The Indian Premier League was being held at home this time after being hosted in the United Arab Emirates for the 2020 edition due to the pandemic. However, this time; India has been facing the second wave of the pandemic which reportedly has a higher rate of infection.
According to the reports, there are possibly four teams playing in the tournament which has at least one positive case. The BCCI had initially thought of taking a decision on allowing in-person attendance for the matches as the tournament progresses but did not allow people to attend them in stadiums owing to the rapid spread of the pandemic. The BCCI was also facing a lot of criticism because of its decision to continue with the tournament at a time when the entire nation is being rocked by the pandemic.
Statement of the BCCI:
A statement was issued by the BCCI regarding the postponement of the tournament. It has stated that “the BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health, and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind”. It has further clarified the intent behind postponing the Indian Premier League stating; “these are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer; however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.”
The other important parts of the statement are:
“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021. The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players; support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners, and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times.”
This has been a decision that has been supported by many, including the official broadcaster of the matches. Star India, the official broadcaster of the tournament, has supported this decision. It has claimed that the health and safety of the everyone associated with the tournament is of ultimate importance and has thanked all the authorities including the IPLGC and the BCCI for their help and support. There have been other people who had tested positive for the infection too. This includes Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji and two bowlers of Kolkata Knight Riders – Sandeep Warrier and Varun Chakravarthy.
Before this, there had been other instances of players testing positive as well. Axar Patel, the allrounder who plays for Delhi Capitals had also tested positive at the beginning of the tournament; but has since recovered and even played matches. The Indian Premier League chairman; Brijesh Patel has also assured that the BCCI shall find a way to ensure that the overseas players are sent home safely. There are a lot of overseas players in the Indian Premier League. These include nine West Indians, three Afghans, two Bangladeshis. 14 Australians, 10 New Zealanders and11 Englishmen.
Will the IPL resume
The Indian Premier League has been postponed, not cancelled. Therefore, there are chances it might resume. A total of 29 games had been played in the course of the tournament. There were 31 games remaining to be played. It might be difficult to reschedule those games later this year given the international cricket calendar. However, there is a slight possibility of this being rescheduled to November, 2021, immediately after the T20 World Cup final. India is scheduled to host South Africa for a full series. That might be curtailed for the Indian Premier League.
The tournament has been suspended for now but will surely resume in the future. This has been assured by Rajeev Shukla, the vice president of the BCCI. Let us hope for the best.