IPL set to switch from India to UAE

Organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have confirmed that this year’s edition of the Twenty20 cricket tournament will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), subject to final clearance from the Indian government.

The announcement came following a meeting of the IPL governing council yesterday (Sunday). In April, the IPL suspended its 2020 season until further notice amid lockdown measures implemented by the government during COVID-19.

This year’s edition of the money-spinning tournament had originally been due to take place from March 29 to May 24. After the March 29 start date became impossible, it had been hoped that the competition would begin on April 15 only for the suspension to be extended indefinitely.

The IPL GC said that due to the “prevailing COVID-19 situation” in India, the 2020 tournament will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, subject to necessary clearances from the government of India.

The IPL was previously staged in part in the UAE in 2014, due to a clash with that year’s general elections in India, and a potential return has been heavily reported in recent weeks. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed last week that it had received the official Letter of Intent from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to host the IPL in the UAE.

The 2020 IPL is now set to be played from September 19 to November 10, with its 53-day duration making it the longest in its 13-year history. The IPL Governing Council also discussed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which will be finalised and published in due course, including the agencies to execute and deliver a bio-secure environment for the League to take place.

A franchise told the ESPNcricinfo website that detailed fixtures would be sent to them today, and that the first leg of the tournament will be held behind closed doors. The ECB had earlier expressed its hope that stadia could be filled to 30-50% capacity.

The potential to accommodate an IPL held from September to November in the global cricket calendar opened up after the International Cricket Council (ICC) last month postponed the 2020 Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.

The IPL GC also announced yesterday that its Women’s T20 Challenge will take place in the UAE and will comprise three teams with four matches to be played during the IPL Playoff week.

Image: IPL