With less than a month remaining until the Indian Premier League (IPL) commence, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has still not finalized the schedule due to the new pandemic measures of the UAE government in response to the rising coronavirus infection in the country. It is learnt that the IPL governing body would deliver a fixture list for the 60-match tournament by August 20.
In response to a spike in COVID-19 cases, Abu Dhabi has implemented testing for the virus on its borders, making travel into the emirate more time-consuming. Abu Dhabi is the base for two teams – Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians – and is due to host 21 matches. Dubai and Sharjah are to host 21 and 14 matches, respectively, while Dubai is the base for the six other teams.
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The long-halted cash-rich tournament, postponed in March and April, is set to commence on September 19 in three venues in UAE – Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. According to reports, the IPL organisers are now mulling on reducing the number of games in Abu Dhabi. At the moment, IPL governing council is working with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to resolve the matter.
Currently there are no restrictions to travel to Sharjah from Dubai, hence, BCCI may decide to play the entire first leg of IPL 2020 in Dubai & Sharjah. Abu Dhabi Cricket chief executive Matt Boucher told the news outlet that he did not think the border issue would be a major problem, as hundreds of people were using the border crossing every day with no issues.
“The match schedule and the testing of the players need to be aligned,” Boucher said. “It’s not an easy task, it needs to be thought out, it needs to be calculated, but the safety of the players and others is the most important thing. It’s not an international border, it’s a safety mechanism.” Local authorities want all players and staff travelling into Abu Dhabi to return negative 48 hours before they enter the border.
Reports claims that the final decision in this regard will be taken with-in next 48 hours as IPL GC Chairman Brijesh Patel and Hemang Amin is due to meet various officials in UAE government. Meanwhile, a decision if the games will be played behind closed doors is likely to be announced as well. Earlier, ECB is working with the UAE government to figure out a protocol for allowing crowds at venues.
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