The BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Saturday made it clear that the 13th edition of IPL will be a truncated one if the COVID-19 pandemic subsides but could not commit on the number of matches under the current circumstances.
The BCCI on Friday suspended the IPL from March 29 to April 15 due to government-imposed travel restrictions and refusal of three states to host any matches owing to the pandemic that has so far claimed more than 5000 lives and infected close to 1,50,000 people globally. The extraordinary situation prompted the Board's top officials to meet the eight franchise owners on Saturday and explore various options, including organising a curtailed tournament.
Mumbai Indians winning the IPL 2019 (Image: The Hindu)
Asked if the cash-rich event could be a curtailed one, Ganguly said, "It will happen, because if it is April 15, then, in any case 15 days are gone, it has to be truncated. How truncated, how many games, I can't say at the moment." The Board's top boss reiterated that safety is their top priority, a day after the IPL was postponed and the three-match ODI series between India and South Africa was also called off.
"We will monitor further. Safety is most important and with the current situation with what is going around the world and in India, with government directives, we have even postponed the remaining domestic matches." Earlier in the day, Kings XI Punjab's Ness Wadia said he doesn't know when the T20 event will commence. "We cannot and no one, you know, is in a position today to say when it's going to start. We will review the situation after two to three weeks. And hopefully by then the cases will reduce," Wadia told reporters after the meeting with Ganguly and BCCI secretary Jay Shah.
Six to seven options were discussed during the meeting. In India, there have been two deaths and more than 80 positive COVID-19 cases, resulting in a government directive to shut the fans out of sporting events to avoid large gatherings, which eventually led to a postponement and even cancellation of many sports events. Ganguly said the situation will be assessed every week.
Here's a look at the options BCCI have for hosting the IPL
IPL can be truncated
a. The eight teams will face off each other just once instead of a separate home and away fixtures (32 games, including 4 playoffs)
b. The eight teams divided into two groups of four teams each and playing home and away (28 games including playoffs).
Keeping the window open to delay
The IPL was supposed to start on March 29 and get over on May 29. With two weeks gone, the Board plans to extend the window till May 31.
The number of doubleheaders (played on weekdays) could be increased. This way will save the number of days lost due as a result of postponing.
More games every day
A possibility of conducting three games every day is also been looked upon if matches start after April 20.
The restricted number of venues
There is a possibility of hosting the matches in a limited number of venues, which reduce logistical problems and the cost of staging it.
Play in empty stadium
In case the situation doesn’t change by April 15 and the foreign players are not issued visa, the Board will consider hosting the games behind closed doors.
Shifting the tournament abroad was not discussed at all in the meeting. Wadia said: "BCCI, IPL and (official broadcaster) Star (Sports) are clear that we are not looking at financial loss." "At the meeting everyone agreed that human beings come first and finance comes second. We are here to adhere to governments directives," Wadia added. "No decision can be taken until there is clarity. Clarity will only be in two-three weeks. As far as your next question is will foreign players come on? I don't know. There is a ban till the April 15 and then we'll see." Delhi Capitals owner Parth Jindal tried to downplay the discussion on options and said that there will be another meeting later to discuss other modalities. When asked whether there will be more double-headers this season, Jindal said, "We didn't discuss anything, we need to assess the situation and the health and safety of public is most important consideration."