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IPL to be played overseas

G. Viswanath

Name of host country will be announced in two or three days: BCCI president


THE SHOW GOES ON: Indian Premier League CEO Lalit Modi (centre) addresses the media after a meeting of the IPL franchise owners in Mumbai on Sunday. Others in the photograph are (from left): Shah Rukh Khan (Kolkata Knight Riders), BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, Priety Zinta and Ness Wadia (Kings XI Punjab). The BCCI, along with the IPL, has decided to stage the second edition of the Twenty20 cricket tournament outside the country. —

Mumbai: The working committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday decided to proceed with the 59-match Indian Premier League (IPL) Season II in an overseas country from April 10 to May 24.

A communication from Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan close to midnight on Saturday that the IPL Twenty20 matches (18 allotted to the State) cannot be held in the State until May 13, the last polling date for the Lok Sabha elections, is deemed to be the main reason for shifting the IPL Season II in its entirety to an overseas country.

A majority of the eight franchise owners, who spoke to the media after a meeting with BCCI and IPL officials, said they respected the general elections and the security concerns, but felt the show must go on.

BCCI president Shashank Manohar said that where exactly the tournament would be held would be announced in two or three days.

Though the Maharashtra government conveyed its inability to provide security until May 13, the BCCI and IPL officials on Saturday afternoon decided to go ahead and organise the event in an overseas country.

Officials told The Hindu that a team of the IPL and the International Management Group and a BCCI functionary would leave for London immediately to assess the venues in England. The BCCI is in touch with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and also Cricket South Africa (CSA). Officials are likely to visit South Africa also.

At least half-a-dozen BCCI members, who attended the working committee meeting at the Cricket Centre here on Sunday, confided that “more or less England will be the venue for the IPL matches.” The IPL and the eight franchise owners did mull over the possibility of playing at least the semi-finals and final in India.

“We thought about it, but it would be exhausting from the logistical point of view. A majority of the players would have to return to England in June first week for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup,” said Lalit Modi, IPL Chairman and Commissioner.

Detailing the logistical aspect of the 45-day event, Mr. Modi said the IPL would centrally deal with it.

“It’s a challenge. We are looking at multiple cities in multiple countries. The grounds in the overseas country, the hotels and the movement of the teams would be handled by the IPL directly.

“Last year, the eight owners were responsible for this. We have resolved the broadcaster issue and the matches would be shown live to suit the Indian audience, that is the first match at 4 p.m. and the second one at prime time 8 p.m.,” said Mr. Modi.

“It’s prohibitively expensive to take the tournament out of India. We have tried over 100 itineraries and unfortunately because of the elections, we feel sorry for the fans.

“The franchise owners have the option to take any number of players. But we will try to limit the number of players they can take. The IPL has announced the squads with no Pakistan players in it. There will be no change in the squads and the Pakistan players will not be allowed.”

When asked about the likely increased costs, Mr. Modi said: “The cost and revenue model is of no concern to the IPL.

“Revenue is not the issue, it’s the integrity of the tournament. The issue is that a high-quality tournament is delivered to the full at the right time to the Indian and world television audience.

“The BCCI president has told the IPL not to cut corners. We have an event of world standards that can be played anywhere in the world. It will remain an IPL, but held in another country only this year. We don’t want to blame anyone. There are real issues that the government was concerned with, but we want continuity of the league,” Mr. Modi said.

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