The Indian Premier League has returned to India following a year in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s tournament was one of the most exciting IPLs so far and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as well as the fans will hope that the exciting cricket continues back home too.
However, this year’s IPL is going to be difficult from all the IPLs held in India before. Much like last year, no fans will be allowed to attend the games in person for at least the first half of the tournament. The BCCI said that they will review the decision later for allowing fans inside depending on the situation of the pandemic then.
Not only that, IPL 2021 will be played across just six venues instead of the usual eight. Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Ahmedabad will have the 56 league games divided amongst themselves while the playoffs and the final will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on April 30. Therefore, no teams will have home advantage as well. Each team will play in four venues out of the six except for their home ground.
Each player arriving from outside the country from around the world will have to undergo a strict seven-day hotel quarantine before they could join up with their squad and participate in practice. The rule doesn’t just concern foreign players but also domestic players as well, who aren’t a part of any biosecure bubble.
However, players who took part in the India-England series, could go straight into their respective team’s bubbles and take part in the training. They do not need to undergo a seven-day quarantine procedure. But, if anyone decides to break away from the bubble before joining their IPL sides, they will need to isolate themselves for seven days. Team India captain Virat Kohli went home to Mumbai after the completion of the India-England series and underwent quarantine upon his arrival in Chennai on April 1 for seven days.
The teams will also be travelling via private chartered planes and airports wherever possible to limit the risk of contracting the virus from people outside the bio-bubble.
CRICKET BALLS TO BE SANITIZED
According to scientific studies, the chances of players contracting the novel coronavirus from cricket balls are very low. But, to take no chances, the balls will be sanitized with alcohol-based wipes and/or UV-C by the 4th umpire whenever it goes out of the ground before being returned to the field of play for further use. However, the use of saliva to shine the ball is still disallowed.
According to an SOP released by the BCCI before the start of the IPL, 12 Bio-Secure Bubbles will be created. One for each team’s players, support staff and families, one for broadcast crew and television commentators at each venue and one for the match officials and match management team at each venue.
Nobody from outside is supposed to get inside this tightly monitored arrangement.
The BCCI has also introduced ‘bubble integrity managers’ for the first time. Each franchise will be supervised by a maximum of four integrity managers, whose only job is going to be reporting any breaches from within the bubble by team members.
Players who will enter the hotels and bubbles will be tested for the coronavirus and can only join the franchise bi-bubble once they have tested negative more than once.
Before the IPL began, only three players tested positive in the form of Kolkata Knight Riders‘ Nitish Rana, Delhi Capitals‘ Axar Patel and Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Devdutt Padikkal and Daniel Sams. Rana, Padikkal and Axar have since tested negative and joined their respective squads as well while nothing has been said about Sams.
The challenges of hosting this year’s IPL will remain but the BCCI is hopeful that it can be conducted smoothly from the designated dates of April 9 to May 30.