India favours UAE as IPL cricket host this season

Emirates among top contenders for annual Twenty20 league as board looks abroad to counter scheduling clashes with general elections, which could rob some venues of adequate security staff, writes Osman Samiuddin.
South Africa hosted the Indian Premier League in 2009, which the Adam Gilchrist-led Deccan Chargers won. Saeed Khan / AFP
South Africa hosted the Indian Premier League in 2009, which the Adam Gilchrist-led Deccan Chargers won. Saeed Khan / AFP

The UAE is a leading contender to host at least part of this year’s Indian Premier League, the world’s biggest, richest Twenty20 competition.

Cricket sources in both countries say the UAE is among the top candidates being considered by the Board of Control for Cricket in India to stage at least some of the games, because of scheduling clashes with India’s elections.

Other contenders include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Singapore.

The UAE has a considerable advantage, at least over options such as Singapore and Malaysia, as it has three international-standard venues and much experience in hosting international cricket.

The large expatriate population from the subcontinent guarantees crowds, and travel times between venues and the UAE’s proximity to India will also be in its favour.

But much hinges on a meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday in Singapore, where Australia, India and England will try to push through broad changes in the sport’s governance and finances.

What happens at that meeting, a senior IPL official suggested, would shed further light on the need to move games and where they might be played.

In 2009, the year of India’s last general elections, the IPL’s second season was moved to South Africa due to fears that venues could not provide enough security staff, who would be needed to oversee the polls. The season was a success.

Unlike 2009, this year’s elections – the dates for which are expected to be announced on February 27 – will be held in five phases, but there will probaby still be clashes for the IPL given the length of its season.

At Saturday’s ICC meeting, boards from Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan will oppose the proposals from the big three cricketing nations. South Africa and Sri Lanka would ordinarily have been considered as alternative venues.

Sri Lanka, along with Bangladesh, was offered hosting rights to some matches in a bid by India’s board to secure their support for the ICC changes. If it unexpectedly agrees to the proposed changes it might become a more popular option for the IPL.

Meanwhile, the league’s franchises have been told to prepare as if the entire tournament were to be played in India.

“We are trying to get a clarity on the venue before the [players’] auction,” said Venky Mysore, chief executive of Kolkatta Knight Riders.

The auction is due to be held in Bangalore on February 12 and 13.

Consideration by the Indian board for the UAE is a victory of sorts, given the BCCI’s recent aversion to playing in the country.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

Published: February 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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