IPL set for September return in UAE

Shreyas Gopal of the Rajasthan Royals celebrates after taking the wicket of Mandeep Singh of the Royal Challengers Bangalore during match fifty three of the Vivo Indian Premier League 2018 (IPL 2018) between the Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore held at the The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on the 19th May 2018. Photo by: Deepak Malik /SPORTZPICS for BCCI

After one of the most tumultuous periods in the sports history, cricket’s biggest and best T20 tournament is finally set to return this September.

The 2020 IPL was originally due to begin in March of this year, but, with COVID-19 cases spiking in India just prior to opening week, the decision was taken to delay it until further notice.

However, cricket is now very much back on our screens, with the recent test series between England and the West Indies proving to be a great, trail-blazing success. Its now time for white ball matches to recommence, beginning with the IPL – which this year, is set to take place in the United Arab Emirates. The Arabian nation last hosted IPL matches in 2014, following political turmoil in the tournament’s homeland.

The UAE has become the defacto region for cricket matches that are unable to be played in their intended venues. The Pakistan Cricket Team has been played its home games in the UAE for the past decade, following the devastating terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. In an attempt to add variety to what could be a slightly sterile environment, three cities will host matches: Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

As it currently stands, foreign players will be allowed to feature in the competition, with a number of South African stars such as Faf Du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi recently stating that they will arrive in the UAE slightly later than planned. With that being said, the precarious nature of the Coronavirus pandemic means that the situation could change at any moment.

As for whether the tournament will be a slightly abridged version of the usual format, the IPL recently stated in a press release that all 53 matches are likely to be completed without the need to shorten. Beginning on the 19th September, the IPL will run through the entirety of October, before culminating in a November 10th finale. Alongside play-off week will be an accompanying women’s T20 competition, though some players who are poised to feature has voiced concerns over the timing of the event.

Heading into its 12th year, returning champions Mumbai Indians will be hopeful of retaining their crown, and adding a record 5th IPL title in the process. The 2019 final was yet another epic contest between the Indians and the Chennai Super Kings, with a cameo from Kieron Pollard ultimately sealing the win for Rohit Sharma’s side. The Trinidad born all-rounder is another player who could miss out on this year’s edition, with many of his West Indian teammates having already voiced concerns over playing cricket abroad in the current climate. Find out from the experts what is likely to happen by checking out the free Cricket Tips page on Bettinggods.com.

MS Dhoni 2018 PA

The Chennai Super Kings meanwhile, have been buoyed by news that their talismanic captain MS Dhoni is set to keep playing for the side until 2022 at the earliest. The veteran wicketkeeper, who will surely go down as one of India’s greatest ever white ball players, has been a central part of Chennai’s success since the IPL’s inception. The IPL talent pool remains remarkably impressive, as even if a number of foreign stars are unable to travel, there is still set to be plenty of quality on show.

The greatest threat to the IPL’s new starting date is surely going to be an unforeseen rise in COVID-19 cases, or a number of players/coaches contracting the deadly virus just prior. On August 12th, the league’s worse nightmare came true, as Chennai’s fielding coach Dishant Yagnik tested positive for Coronavirus, there by posing a threat to the newly agreed schedule.

As we have seen in Football, F1 and MMA, if infected individuals can be successfully quarantined, and the virus can be contained, there’s no reason why the event can’t go ahead. Time will ultimately tell, but a number of sports have carved a path for the IPL to diligently follow, one which, if they abide by, will assure the 2020 edition is completed without a hitch.