Despite the possibility of 17th Lok Sabha elections clashing with the 12th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL), the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) announced that the T20 tournament for 2019 will be played in India. A total of 20 venues will be kept ready for the matches to pick and choose from, in order to not clash with the polls.
The members of the CoA, after consultations with all eight franchises of the IPL, the Union Home Ministry and concerned stakeholders over the last two months, arrived at this conclusion post a meeting held between Vinod Rai, Diana Edulji (CoA members), BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and the league’s chief operating officer Hemang Amin.
Should the league clash with the elections – which will most likely be the case towards the second-half of the tournament – the BCCI is already considering the possibility of changing the tournament’s home-and-away format and making it venue-specific. Matches will be scheduled at neutral venues where polling would have already concluded or coming up at a later date.
“If the league and election dates clash, it may be difficult to have the home-and-away format. In such a scenario, there’s a likelihood of shifting matches to neutral venues. Everything else remains the same. But again, this is mere assumption right now. Specifics will begin to emerge only once the election dates are out. We have 20 venues to choose from,” say sources.
All the franchises in IPL, broadcasters Star India, the league’s central pool of sponsors, members of the BCCI and the Home Ministry are learnt to be in agreement with the final decision taken. IPL-2019 will begin on March 23 and conclude on May 12, a good 23 days before India are scheduled to play their first World Cup match in England. The 50-over ICC World Cup is slated to begin on May 30.
While the schedule of IPL matches - who plays whom and on what date - will be announced soon but the BCCI will not be able to announce the venues until the dates for general elections are out. “The last three general elections trends suggest that polling usually begins in the second week of April. If that is the case, IPL will have a clear window for the first two weeks. So, calls will have to be taken on scheduling only once we get to know the election schedule,” sources said.
The BCCI had done recces in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), keeping in mind the possibility of shifting the tournament overseas – either fully or partly – like in 2009 and 2014. At the same time, the CoA carried “preliminary discussions with appropriate authorities” to figure out the possibility of hosting the league in India. Based on the discussions, “it was decided that the 12th edition will be played in India,” a statement from the CoA said.