India’s top cricketers and mega event IPL might be returning to South Africa in a few months time. With India’s Covid-19 curve showing an alarming situations, the BCCI has put in place a contingency plan of holding the upcoming Indian Premier League on foreign shores.
In case the virus surge doesn’t dip by April, when the newly expands 10-team event is expect to kick-off, the Indian board is incline to move the IPL’s Season 15 to South Africa, which had earlier host the T20 league in 2009.
BCCI is also exploring the Sri Lanka option as it puts on paper its pandemic-time Plan B.
It is learnt that in wake of the rising Covid count and increasing positivity rate, the BCCI secretary Jay Shah’s office was force to redraw BCCI’s 2021 schedule.
Around the time the postpone of the Ranji Trophy tournament was announce, the talk about the possible shifting of IPL was initiate.
Later when the domestic under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy had to be stop mid-way because of many positive cases.
The past two years when BCCI’s flagship event with international flavour was fully and partially held in UAE because of the pandemic situation in the country, the Indian cricket board was keen to look beyond the Gulf venue this time.
BCCI official Said :
With India 3 hours and 30 minutes ahead of South Africa, the IPL games, unlike in UAE or India, wouldn’t see last night finishes.
In case the broadcasters stick to their prefer 7.30 pm IST prime start, the game’s first ball in South Africa would be bowl at 4 pm.
Over the years, players have often complain of IPL games finishing well past midnight.
This match timings with constant air travel, has deny the players time for rest and recovery. .
The other factor which made the BCCI look at South Africa was the success of the ongoing series and also the India A tour before that.
Feedback from the Test team has play a key role in the BCCI’s decision.
Though the team have been in a bio-bubble since the start of the tour last month, the sprawling hotels and resorts that the hosts, South Africa cricket board, have earmark for the tour party have come as a welcome relief for players.
Since the restart of sports in pandemic time, there have been concerns about the mental health of players as they have remained isolated for long spells.
With the IPL consisting of 10 teams this time, Season 15 is to be the longest ever.
BCCI official Said :
Before the Indian team reach in South Africa last month, there were doubts around the tour.
That was the time South Africa had identified the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
There was global panic as Gauteng province, which was to host the first two Tests, had seen a spike in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisation.
So, with the strict implementation of Covid protocol and the dramatic fall in the virus spread, the Test series has gone ahead without any disruption so far.
With fresh Covid-19 data emerging from South Africa pointing to a daily decline in infections, in a matter of months, the perception of South Africa as a sporting destination has change.