The cloud of uncertainty over the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is darkening as India enters into a 21 days lockdown which started from midnight of 25th March in an attempt to tackle the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
IPL 2020, originally, was scheduled to start on the 29th March 2020 but was deferred to 15th April after the advisory of the government to either cancel the games or play them behind the locked door without any live spectators.
For the stakeholders, it is becoming more and more challenging to chart an alternative plan.
Before the news of the nationwide lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (24th March), Sourav Ganguly who is the president of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) said the status quo remains on the fate of IPL 2020 as the situation is not coming under control.
Ganguly said, “I can’t say anything at the moment. We are at the same place where we were on the day we postponed. Nothing has changed in the last 10 days. So, I don’t have an answer to it. Status quo remains,”.
Ganguly had a teleconference with the representatives of the 8 franchises on the tournament last week and was scheduled to another conference on Tuesday however, the meeting was cancelled.
As of now, no further meetings are lined up, however, BCCI will be soon forced to reconvene as the 21 day lockdown period will end on the 14th of April, just 1 day before the current rescheduled date decided for the beginning of the tournament.
One of the options which were discussed during the IPL Governing Council Meeting which held on the 14th March was to extend the window of IPL 2020 till later end of May or early June. The BCCI was open to calling other boards of cricket in order to discuss the possibility of the reworked itinerary, however, as the countries, including India, locked-down their borders and imposed tight restrictions on travel, such a move could be next to futile.
Another issue of further postponing the IPL in 2020 would conflict with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Future Tour Program, which would become a hectic task for cricket boards of many countries as well.
Talking about India, the team in blue proposed a series against Zimbabwe in addition to the Asia Cup T20 in September this year – the final leg of their build-up to the T20 World Cup in October. Also, the India tour of Sri Lanka was scheduled for June this year which would also mark as the start of the ODI Championship.
Sporting events all over the globe have been affected because of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, football competitions and leagues like UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, English Premier League, and Euro 2020; Chinese, Azerbaijan, Australian and Monaco Grand Prixs have either been cancelled or postponed.
Even the Tokyo Olympics has been pushed to 2021 as per reports.
All international and many domestic cricket tournaments and matches have been suspended or cancelled altogether. BCCI itself was forced to cut short the series against South Africa in March as it cancelled two ODIs.