The UAE will host at least 16 matches of this year's Indian Premier League (IPL), as part of a staggered season that could take in Bangladesh as a venue as well. The opening phase of the seventh season of the IPL will take place in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
“One window of the IPL from April 16-30 I can confirm will be played in the UAE,” Ranjib Biswal, the IPL chairman, confirmed to The National. “That will be 16 matches and will be played at all three venues across the UAE.”
That confirmation ended weeks of speculation about where parts of the seventh season of the world’s richest cricket league will be played. General elections in India, held over nine phases, are due to begin from April 7 and will run through to May 12.
As they did during the last elections in 2009, the dates clash with the window for the IPL. States will not be able to provie enough security staff for matches as they will be needed to oversee polling. In 2009, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to move the entire season to South Africa.
This time, however, the BCCI has decided to break down the season into three phases, beginning with the UAE, possibly moving to Bangladesh from May 1, before returning to India from May 13. The league ends on June 1.
The broad details were confirmed in a press release the BCCI sent out on Tuesday afternoon. “From Wednesday 16th April to Wednesday 30th April, at least 16 matches will be held in the United Arab Emirates,” the statement read.
“The BCCI is very grateful to the Emirates Cricket Board, its Chairman, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, and the government of the UAE for their offer of wholehearted support to host the Pepsi IPL for this period.”
The next phase could see some matches played in India, in cities where polling has finished. But discussions on this continue with India’s Ministry of Home Affairs continue. “BCCI will abide by the decision of the authorities in this regard. If it is not possible to play in India during this period, IPL matches will be held in Bangladesh and BCCI is thankful to the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government of Bangladesh for their support.”
The remaining matches, the statement confirmed, will be held in India though there will be no games on May 16, when election counting will take place. A more detailed schedule of the 60-match season is expected to be finalised later in the week.
The development caps what will be one of the most hectic seasons in the history of UAE cricket. Already this winter there have been two international series involving Pakistan, various U19 tournaments including the U19 World Cup, the World Twenty20 quaifiers and the forthcoming annual MCC visit.
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