Cricbuzz understands that the BCCI is prepping to conduct the remainder of IPL 2021 in September-October in the UAE. The announcement could be made official after their Special General Meeting (SGM) on May 29.
The 14th edition, which had to be postponed owing to COVID-19, is expected to restart around September 16-20 and finish on October 9-10. The timeline pits the IPL against the upcoming T20 World Cup which begins October 18, with both tournaments competing for time and space. But the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), the host organizer of the ICC tournament, has given assurances to the BCCI and agreed to make flexible provisions for the IPL scheduling, a development confirmed to Cricbuzz by a BCCI member.
What will make the scheduling tricky is the requirement by the ICC to take over the grounds ten days before the start of the tournament, in order to prepare for branding and other activities. In that case, Cricbuzz learns that the plan is to schedule the matches in a transitive manner at the three available venues — Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. It will ensure that the league is concentrated at one venue for the final few days and the other two venues can be handed over to the ICC.
Given the time crux in a tight window of 22-23 days, the BCCI is understood to be planning for multiple double-headers. Given the hot conditions, they could be scheduled at the end of September and the beginning of October.
Availability of foreign players is another concern for the BCCI and the eight franchises. The West Indies players are expected to come (the CPL gets over on September 19) and so are the South Africans, but it gets sticky when you look at factors other than the cricket calendar. A Steve Smith, for instance, may not be too excited to turn up for a fee or INR 1 crore (he was bought for INR 2.2 crore by Delhi) while a Pat Cummins (bought INR 15.50 crore by KKR) or a Glenn Maxwell (bought INR 14.25 crore by RCB) may make themselves available because they could lose INR 7-8 crores each if they don’t play the second half of the league.
While the overseas player situation will be clearer in the months to come, BCCI’s top priority will remain staging the remainder of the league, failing which will mean huge financial losses.