As the king of all T20 private leagues in the world makes its way to the UAE, it’s time for the annual 2 month long cricketing bonanza we know as the Indian Premier League. Another major sporting event affected by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the BCCI and the Governments of India and UAE mutually decided to shift the tournament, citing concerns about the rapid spread of the virus in India.
The IPL was officially scheduled to begin on 29th March 2020, with the first match being held at the iconic Wankhede stadium, between last year’s finalists and arch-rivals Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. As the rate of coronavirus infections rose rapidly, chief ministers across the country suggested that matches be played in empty stadiums, while the Delhi deputy CM straight up ruled out any IPL matches to be played in the city.
The BCCI initially postponed the event by a month, during which various alternatives were discussed. Srilanka’s cricket board offered to host the tournament in the summer, while the BCCI proposed to host the tournament at a later date behind closed doors. Eventually, with the ICC postponing the T20 World Cup which was scheduled to be held in October, the BCCI sought permission from the Government of India to shift the tournament to UAE during that timeframe. The governments of UAE and India mutually agreed to the proposal, and the new tournament was confirmed to begin on September 19th 2020.
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Safety Rules And Regulations Regarding Covid-19
The BCCI is leaving no stone unturned to ensure optimal safety of everyone involved with the IPL this season. A slew of measures have been proposed that every single individual concerned with the tournament will have to follow.
- All Indian players will have to undertake 2 PCR tests for Covid 19, in the week before they assemble in their franchise’s city, before flying to the UAE. All foreign players will also need undergo 2 tests, 24 hours apart, before landing in the UAE.
- All players and support staff will then have to give 3 more tests after landing in UAE, on day 1, 3 and 6. Only after successfully clearing all 3 tests, these individuals will be allowed to enter the biosecure bubble.
- Players and staff to maintain social distancing, use of facial masks and all other basic precautionary rules when off the pitch.
- 8 different hotels have been booked for the 8 franchises and the players and support staff will be accommodated separately from the rest of the franchise staff.
- Suspected or positive cases will be immediately isolated from the rest of the camp and spend at least 2 weeks in quarantine outside the bubble, with no physical activity allowed.
- Team meetings are advised to be held via video conferencing, instead of gathering in a particular room, to prevent close contact.
- On every matchday, players and umpires to get their temperatures checked before entering the field.
New Title Sponsors
Due to the Indian Government decision to crackdown on Chinese companies following repeated altercations on the Ladakh border, the BCCI decided to cancel its lucrative contract with Chinese mobile company VIVO, who had paid an astronomical sum of Rs. 2200 crores over a 5 year period from 2017 to 2022 for the IPL naming rights. Ending this contract early cost the BCCI around Rs. 440 crores as compensation.
The title sponsor slot was left vacant by the BCCI and many top firms were invited to bid for it, with fantasy sports giants Dream 11 eventually bagging the in demand slot and the IPL would now be rechristened as Dream 11 IPL for the 2020 edition. The gaming company paid Rs. 217 crores for this honour.
The 2020 Indian Premier League fixtures will be spread across 3 different stadiums. This has been decided to keep travelling distance minimal and also helps in logistics and organization of such a massive event.
- Dubai International Cricket Stadium – Formerly known as the Dubai Sports City Stadium, this impressively designed stadium has a capacity of 30000 and has hosted all 3 formats of the sport before. The first and last ODIs played here were both between Australia and Pakistan while it has also hosted international games of tier 2 cricketing nations like The Netherlands.
- Sharjah Cricket Stadium – One of the most iconic cricket stadiums in the world, the Sharjah Cricket Stadium holds the world record for hosting the maximum number of One Day International matches, with a staggering 240 matches being held there. It has also hosted the IPL before, with a few matches of the 2014 edition being played there.
- Sheikh Zayed Stadium – This is a relatively smaller stadium and will host a few matches, as it did back in 2014 as well. The first ODI to be played here was a charity game between India and Pakistan in 2006.
IPL Schedule 2020 – Fixtures, Timings and Broadcasters
- There will be a total of 60 matches played in the 13th edition of the IPL, with 56 league games, 2 Qualifiers, 1 eliminator and then the final. 8 different franchises will play 2 matches against each other, home and away.
- The league will begin on the 19th September, with the first match between last season’s finalists Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The final will be held on Tuesday, 10th November 2020 in Abu Dhabi, the first ever IPL final to be held on a weekday.
- The night matches will begin at 19:30 IST (18:00 UAE) while the day matches will begin at 15:30 IST (14:00 UAE), basically 30 minutes before the usual timings of IPL matches every other season. There will be a total of 10 afternoon matches, so 10 double headers spread across the 53 day cricketing bonanza.
- The whole league will continue to be broadcasted by Star Sports Network, with multiple regional languages available for the different states in India. In UAE the league will be broadcast on beIN Sports. The online streaming rights are still with Disney+ Hotstar, and Jio customers can enjoy live streaming of the IPL for free.
IPL 2020 Teams – The Franchises Playing In The 13th Edition Of The IPL
- Mumbai Indians – The defending champions as well as the most successful team in the tournament’s history would be looking to add a record 5th IPL title to their name. The leadership and impeccable form of Rohit Sharma coupled with their big hitting all-rounders and overseas players make MI a huge force to reckon with as always.
- Chennai Super Kings – The 2nd most successful team in the IPL with 3 titles to their name, CSK finished as the runners up last season after a harsh 1 run defeat to their arch-rivals Mumbai Indians in the final. The Super Kings would be looking to make amends and under the evergreen captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, would be looking for that elusive 4th title which would make them the joint-most successful team in the IPL.
- Delhi Capitals – One of only 3 sides to have never won the IPL title and also the only franchise amongst the current batch to have never even reached the final, Delhi Capitals have a lot to prove in this edition. With new owners and a fresh youthful outlook, skipper Shreyas Iyer has a huge responsibility on his young shoulders to take this team to its first ever final. A strong performance by the Indian batting core at the top may well help them cross that line finally.
- Sunrisers Hyderabad – The Hyderabad based franchise has won the title twice in its history, and with the likes of David Warner, Kane Williamson and Johnny Bairstow leading their batting lineup, and an ever-impressive bowling attack to boast, SRH would be looking to add a 3rd title to their ranks, which would put them equal on title wins to Chennai Super Kings.
- Kolkata Knight Riders – 2-time IPL winners Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the most unpredictable teams in this league, with plenty of roller coaster seasons over the years. Led by the experienced Dinesh Karthik and now boasting of the most expensive player purchased at the auction Pat Cummins, KKR would be looking to make a mark and join CSK on 3 titles, especially if their main man Andre Russel is on song.
- Royal Challengers Bangalore – Probably the most glamorous side in the league, in no small part because of the presence of one India’s greatest ever batsman Virat Kohli, RCB have been perennial underachievers ever since this league began. Despite reaching the final 3 different times, they haven’t managed to win the trophy even once. Will they get 4th time lucky at the 2020 IPL ? Only time will tell, but one can count on Kohli’s leadership and the brilliance of AB Devilliers to keep them in the hunt for that elusive title.
- Kings XI Punjab – Another team which has never managed to win the IPL despite making the final in 2014, Kings XI have often been the whipping boys of the IPL. Many teams have had plenty of one sided matches against the North Indian franchise over the years. However, with an explosive opening pair of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, they are not to be taken lightly and would be looking for a first title.
- Rajasthan Royals – The first ever winners of the IPL, back in 2008, have somewhat fallen off the pace in recent years and have been very inconsistent. However, with the likes of Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, they probably have the best foreign contingent in the league and might spring a surprise.