Mumbai, February 28: The Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI) is reportedly planning to host the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, which is scheduled to be held between April and June, in six cities. The refurbished Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad is most likely to host the play-offs and the final, while the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata have been shortlisted to host the league games.
Initially, the board had planned to host the league matches of the entire tournament on two venues, possibly Mumbai and Pune. The franchises are apparently unhappy with the new idea of hosting the tournament across six venues for that will also increase their headache of keeping players safe across venues. The IPL 2020, which was hosted in the UAE due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, was held across three venues.
A franchise representative was quoted by a Times of India report as saying, "Obviously, it's scary. The earlier idea of hosting it in one or two cities sounded far better. After all, the 2020 edition was conducted between three venues and it went well."
There are also seemingly issues about the lack of clarity with regards to the plans being made.
Another source was quoted by TOI as saying, "Franchises had started preparing, thinking it was only going to be between Mumbai and Pune, with the playoffs in Ahmedabad. Those plans change now. Franchises will want to know more and that will happen soon."
However, the home and away format of the tournament will make a return in IPL 2021 as bio-secure bubbles will have to be set up across all the venues.
"The format of the tournament will not change. It's the same home-and-away format, with each team hosting seven and travelling for the other seven. That'll mean a total of 60 matches like it is conducted every year. The grouping of teams is only to ensure that preparing bio-secure bubbles becomes easier and there's less confusion," sources told the news daily.
However, there is no clarity on whether or not fans will be permitted to enter the stadium as the number of cases continue to increase in certain cities. Matches in Mumbai are most likely to be held behind closed doors due to the spike in the cases in Maharashtra.
Other venues could yet allow fans into the stadium but only up to 50% of the capacity so as to maintain social distancing norms. With the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic spiking the number of positive cases in the country, the preparations have once again hit a roadblock.