The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League IPL will commence on Friday, 9th April. Eight teams will go head to head with each other on a double-legged tie to be hosted in selected locations. The venues have been pigeonholed to Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and Delhi. Out of the 56 games to be played, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Bengaluru are set to host 10 of them each, while Delhi and Ahmedabad will host eight each. The opening match will be played between the defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium. All the venues that have been allocated to the teams for their home and away matches are neutral.
The IPL has not been the same since last year, the tremors brought by the virus have affected cricket too. The 14th edition of the biggest T20 league in the country will be played behind closed doors just as the previous one. The alarming spike in cases due to Covid-19 will have the fans extend their support from home.
Setting aside the new protocols assigned for Covid-19, the Board of Control for Cricket in India(BCCI) has set new cricketing rules as well. These rules might oversee a significant number of changes in the game which could prove to be favorable for one team and fatal for the other.
No Soft Signal
BCCI has decided to part ways with soft signals in the IPL. A soft signal is an initial decision taken by the on-field umpire before the third umpire’s review is initiated. In an unassertive situation, the on-field umpire on the bowling end should take the decision first before going to the umpire on the striker’s end. Further, if the third umpire has to be consulted for a final call, the bowling side umpire should firstly take the decision. The 4th T20 of England tour of India saw Suryakumar Yadav walk back to the pavilion from a soft signal decision by the on-field umpire. The apprehensive Dawid Malan catch was given out by the third umpire due to a lack of convincing evidence. The on-field umpire can still give a soft signal but it will be overruled during the third umpire’s call.
90 Minute Innings
This year’s IPL will require the bowling side to finish twenty overs within a stipulated time frame of ninety minutes. These 90 minutes will be broken down into eighty-five minutes of playing and five minutes of strategic time-outs. According to the Minimum Over Rates system the matches had to conduct 14.11 overs per hour, excluding the time consumed in time-outs. For delayed and interrupted matches 4 minutes and 15 seconds were reduced with every over reduced from the innings. This year according to the new set of guidelines the 20th over will be included in the 90th minute, which roughly means that the bowlers will have to complete their quota of 20 overs in one and half hours of time.
The third umpire might curtail runs from the batting side if the batsman does not cross the crease while taking a run. The third umpire’s decision can overrule the on-field umpire’s decision and will stand final. In 2020 a controversy sparked off in a match between Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings where the on-field umpire’s wrong call gave away a run to the Delhi side and proved quite fatal for Punjab in the end.
The third umpire will also have the power to overturn a no-ball decision made by the on-field umpire.
This year’s IPL will see a significant number of changes. As new rules have been deployed on the field, the player’s safety will also be a concern. Strict protocols have been deployed there too. Players and their family members will be kept in bio-secure bubbles and will require special permission from the BCCI chief medical officer to leave it. The players who will arrive from places such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, and other parts of Europe will have to undergo a 7-day quarantine, during which they have to bear their own expenses. The cricket balls which can be possible carriers of the virus will be replaced immediately if they go into the stands or outside. They will be sanitized and kept away to avoid any immediate danger.
The biggest T20 league in the country will be back but not in the usual way people have pictured it. Although it comes with all sorts of new regulations; on and off the field, the lovers of the game will still continue to fancy it.