The remaining matches of the fourteenth edition of the IPL 2021 is set to resume around the 18th or 19th of September, 2021. The Indian Premier League, comprising 8 teams, which is attended by cricketers across the world, had been suspended indefinitely on the 4th of May, 2021. The IPL governing council and the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) amidst rising cases of COVID-19 among the players and officials of the tournament took the decision jointly.
The tournament was facing widespread criticism for being held at a time when the entire country is going through a devastating second wave of the pandemic. The first phase of the tournament was being held in India. The last edition of the tournament was held in the United Arab Emirates. Let us have a look at the various details of the second phase of the tournament.
Details and possible schedule
The BCCI has announced that it shall be looking at starting the second phase between the 18th and 20th of September. This phase shall be held in the United Arab Emirates, like the 2020 edition of the tournament. A three week window has been ascertained to hold the remaining matches. A lot of matches, including playoffs, are remaining. A total of 31 matches, including four playoff matches, are yet to be played in the tournament.
The BCCI is planning to hold the final of the tournament on the weekend of October 9-10. The schedule of the games has not been published yet, but according to the reports, 10 double-headers and 7 evening games shall be played. The games shall start at 7:30 pm like they used to originally. All these details have been confirmed by BCCI officials in private. One can expect the BCCI to come up with a detailed plan very soon.
Problems in organizing the second phase
There were and are various problems in holding this second phase of the tournament. The officials were not sure to decide the venue of the second phase and thus multiple options, including the UAE, Sri Lanka and UK were considered, before zeroing down on the UAE. The IPL has already been played there earlier, which probably makes this easier. India is being avoided as a venue owing to the high number of infections here. A high number of players and officials had tested positive in the first phase anyway.
Availability of foreign players
This is one of the biggest worries of the officials. The availability of foreign players is a big question for the BCCI owing to the busy schedule of world cricket all throughout the year. It might require the other cricket boards to adjust their schedules to allow the foreign players of the various teams to join their respective teams in the tournament. The dates of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) would have to be adjusted, which shall be starting on the 28th of August and will end on the 19th of September.
Some reports suggest that the West Indian players will join the Indian Premier League IPL later because of their commitments in the CPL. This might be a bit difficult for the West Indian players because of their tight schedules, especially their home season. This home season will end on the 24th of August with the last test against Pakistan. BCCI is thus now in talks with the CPL to ask them to tweak their schedules.
India tour to England Series
The Indian cricket team also has its own commitments around the same time. India will be touring England in September for the five-test series. This series will be played between 4 August and 14 September. Given that the last test is ending on the 14th of September and that the Indian Premier League will be resuming on the 18th of September approximately, there has to be some negotiation with the ECB to change the dates of the series. It is also difficult for the ECB to alter the dates of the series owing to its own busy schedule.
The England players are supposed to travel to Bangladesh and Pakistan right after the conclusion of the home series and the ECB has indicated that its players shall not be partaking in the second phase. The T20 World Cup is also scheduled to start on the 16th of October in the United Arab Emirates in all probability. This also poses a challenge to the second phase.
Despite all the difficulties, the second phase is bound to bring a smile to the face of many fans of the tournament. Let us hope we get to see some good cricket again in the second phase of the tournament.