The coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought the global sporting world to a complete standstill and Indian cricket fans for the first time in decades have no cricketing action to keep them entertained. The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) was expected to commence at the end of March and run for a period of 6 weeks.
No Decision On IPL For Now
The BCCI was initially contemplating running the IPL at empty stadiums in a bid to protect both players and fans. However, they were forced to pull the plug on the 2020 IPL and postpone it indefinitely as COVID-19 concerns around the world made it difficult for foreign players to travel to India.
India has also been in lockdown mode from March 24 after the central government imposed a mandatory 21 day lockdown throughout the country. There is no indication as of now as to whether the government will lift the ban after the 21 day period or continue to extend the lockdown period.
BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and his team are closely monitoring the situation. Their initial plan was to try and get the IPL up and running by April 15 but that does not look possible at this point of time. Given the busy international cricketing calendar, there is no provision for the IPL to be postponed to the second half of 2020.
IPL Can Still Take Place If We Start In May
A BCCI official who preferred to remain anonymous said at this point in time, the board was just going to wait. The good news according to the official is that they can still run the 2020 IPL if things change; and the first game could take place before the first week of May is over.
The BCCI official referred to the 2009 IPL which was shifted to South Africa due to the elections. The BCCI made a quick decision to shift the tournament and not cancel it. The 2009 edition saw a total of 59 games played during a course of just 37 days.
The biggest challenge that players usually have to deal with during each IPL edition is the domestic travel. Games are played across the country and held at the franchises host stadiums. However, if the 2020 IPL is to take place in May, these travel requirements will have to be scrapped.
IPL Should Take Place In Maharashtra
The BCCI official claims that the best way to host the 2020 IPL is to restrict the tournament to Maharashtra. The state has four cricketing stadiums and it will allow the BCCI to host multiple games without logistic issues. This appears to be the most logical solution if the IPL is able to start by May 2020.
Should the BCCI proceed with this plan, the Mumbai Indians will be the biggest benefactors; they will be playing at home. While the other franchises will be happy to get the tournament underway, it will be a disappointment to IPL fans. They usually turn up in the thousands to support their respective franchises at their home stadiums.
Will Fans Be Allowed To Attend?
The BCCI official did not make any mention as to whether they will consider allowing fans to attend these games. If the BCCI decides to not allow fans, then the home advantage to the Mumbai Indians will be mitigated.
The BCCI is expected to make an announcement after April 15 confirming its plans for the 2020 IPL!