BCCI looking to get players vaccinated, UAE not a back-up option for IPL 2021


The BCCI doesn’t feel the need to look at a back-up overseas venue for hosting the 2021 edition of the IPL, treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal said on Saturday. Dhumal, who is also on the IPL Governing Council, told PTI that the board is confident that it would be able to host the league at home unlike the previous edition, which was held in the UAE due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are working on having the IPL in India and we are hopeful that we would be able to organise it. We are not even thinking of a back up at this point in time, we want to do it here. India is probably safer than UAE at this point. Hopefully, the situation remains stable and keep improving and we will have it here,” said Dhumal. 

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The UAE is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases while there has been a decline in India. The seven-day average caseload in the UAE has inched towards 4000, up from 770 when the IPL 2020 began on September 19. India’s seven-day average was past 90,000 at the time, but is now under 14,000. 

After the boards of both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during last year’s IPL, the UAE was considered a back-up option to host this season too, alongside being an option for the India-England series that begins in Chennai next week.

The BCCI recently scrapped the Ranji Trophy from this season’s cricket for the first time in the tournament’s history, deciding instead to close the truncated season off with the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and 50-overs competitions for women and U-19 cricketers.

“We took feedback from the players, selection committee, state associations. It was felt that 2020 is already gone and rather than having two Ranji events in the same calendar year, it is better to go for white-ball cricket. That way, we could have something for junior cricket and women considering the importance of of Women’s World Cup and U-19 World Cup next year. Rather than having one tournament, we thought of having events in different categories,” said Dhumal, adding that players will be duly compensated for not getting to play the Ranji Trophy this season.

The resumption of domestic cricket happened with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with the final to be played in Ahmedabad on Sunday. With domestic cricket also being played in bio-secure bubbles, Dhumal said it is tough on the organisers as well as players, but that’s the requirement until the cricketers are vaccinated.

“It is tough but at least this way we are getting to play. We are working on getting our players vaccinated. The government’s directive is that frontline workers and the most vulnerable will be the first to get vaccinated, but we are in touch with the government to get our players vaccinated.”

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On the possibility of having crowds for the upcoming India-England contest, the first international series in the country amid the pandemic, he said: “We are reviewing the situation on a regular basis. We want the roar to be back in the stadiums but we have to work in tandem with the state and cental government. We are very keen to have the crowds back. Surely, it won’t be 100 percent capacity given the challenges, but we are looking at anywhere between 25-50 percent.” 

However, the first two Tests of the England series will be played behind closed doors. 

The BCCI had approached its counterparts in Sri Lanka and South Africa for a bilateral series next month to resume international cricket for the women’s team but Dhumal claimed the pandemic situations in those countries were not viable. The women last played an international event in March 2020.

“We are keen that women’s cricket flourishes. We were wanting to conduct some bilateral series but it fizzled out because the Covid situation is not safe in those countries. At the first available opportunity, we will conduct it.”

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