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BCCI’s top brass in UAE

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Discussions to be held on IPL bio-bubble norms, crowds, and hosting of the ICC event among other things

BCCI’s top brass, led by board secretary Jay Shah, reached Dubai via a charter flight on Monday to finalise plans for the remainder of the 2021 IPL as well as discuss the probability of the UAE hosting the men’s T20 World Cup this October-November. BCCI president Sourav Ganguly will reach Dubai on Wednesday to join talks with the Emirates Cricket Board.

Shah’s contingent comprises Arun Dhumal (board treasurer), Jayesh George (board joint secretary), Hemang Amin (BCCI’s interim chief executive officer) and Dhiraj Malhotra (BCCI’ general manager of operations and tournament director for T20 World Cup).

On Saturday, the BCCI was authorised by its members – state associations – to shift the second half of the IPL to the UAE in September-October after the tournament was abruptly and indefinitely suspended in the first week of May. The BCCI had been forced to pull the plug at the halfway stage of the tournament due to the growing number of cases during the second leg of the IPL, which was held in Ahmedabad and Delhi. A total of 31 matches, including four play-offs, remain to be played.

In its talks with the ECB, the BCCI is expected to firstly get the approval for hosting the IPL from the UAE government. The discussions are also likely to be feature the preparedness of the three UAE venues – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – along with the mandatory requirement for creating the tournament bubble for the eight IPL teams.

With players arriving from different parts of the world, and not just India, both boards would also look at the necessary quarantine requirements that need to be satisfied before the BCCI finalise the standard operating procedures for the IPL.

One other significant point likely to be discussed is around the vaccination for all those that would be part of the IPL bubble. Recently, the Abu Dhabi government approved the hosting of the remainder of the PSL on the condition that all six teams and rest of the stakeholders that would be part of the tournament bubble needed to be vaccinated.

T20 World Cup moving to the UAE?

The presence of the entire top wing of the BCCI in Dubai can be seen as first move by the BCCI to shift the T20 World Cup to the UAE, which had been named as a cover for India. The ICC has not yet announced the final itinerary for the the 16-team World Cup.

While India are currently hosts for the event, the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of IPL has triggered strong doubts over the country’s readiness.

At the Saturday SGM, Ganguly told the members that the BCCI would seek another month’s time to finalise on whether India could host the T20 World Cup.
One key point the BCCI team is likely to discuss with the ECB would concern the revenue sharing arrangement for the tournament to be hosted in the UAE. Recently Malhotra had said on a BBC podcast that while moving the T20 World Cup to the UAE will be the “worst-case scenario” BCCI will still want to retain the hosting rights.

The main reason for that is the lucrative sum involved: every match in an ICC global event is worth about US$250,00-300,00 for the hosting board. With 45 matches, that is a massive amount of money.

The other point for discussion would be in case the UAE ends up hosting both the IPL and T20 World Cup, can the venues handle two back-to-back marquee events and the fitness of the pitches. A total of 76 matches will be played in case both the IPL and the T20 World Cup are played in the UAE excluding the warm-up matches for the latter.

Both boards will want to consider the prospecr of opening the IPL to the crowd. In 2020, when the entire IPL was hosted in the UAE, the BCCI had opted not to allow crowds. The PSL in Abu Dhabi has been confirmed to be played behind closed doors.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo



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India tour of Sri Lanka 2021 – Chetan Sakariya

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The year 2021 has given Chetan Sakariya some of his most cherished memories. But it has also taken away the pillars of his life. In February, his younger brother died by suicide days before the IPL auction. In May, soon after Sakariya impressed in his maiden stint with the Rajasthan Royals, he saw his father succumb to Covid-19.

At 23, Sakariya is no stranger to hardships and struggle, having been the sole breadwinner of his family for the last three years, but he now wants to live with the happy memories life has thrown at him, like the news of his India call-up for the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka in July.



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SL vs Ind 2021 – India’s squad to Sri Lanka to quarantine in Mumbai from June 14

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They will be tested regularly before departing for Colombo on June 28

The second-string Indian squad for the Sri Lanka series will assemble in Mumbai from June 14 to undergo a two-week quarantine. ESPNcricinfo has learnt that the members of the Indian contingent have been asked to take a Covid-19 test before they reach the team hotel in Mumbai, where they will undergo regular testing during the two-week period.

The Indian squad, which will be lead by senior batter Shikhar Dhawan, will land in Colombo on June 28. The visitors would then undergo another three-day quarantine in their hotel rooms before starting training in a controlled fashion as per the guidelines laid out by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

On Friday, the SLC issued a media release stating the Indian squad would train in smaller groups between July 2-4. Between July 6 and 12, the entire squad will be free to train before the ODI series, which begins from the 12th. All six matches in the series, comprising three ODIs followed by equal number of T20s, will be played under lights at the R Premadasa stadium in Colombo.

The last two ODIs will be on July 16 and 18 with the T20 series on July 21, 23, 25. The Indian squad would return home on July 26. This is India’s first tour in Sri Lanka since Rohit Sharma led them to the Nidahas Trophy in 2018.

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo



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LPL 2021 to go ahead as planned in July-August

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Hambantota set to remain venue this time too with SLC looking to put in additional covid-19 measures

The second edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) will go ahead as planned from July 30 to August 22, Sri Lanka Cricket has confirmed, dispelling fears that the tournament may have to be postponed in the light of rising coronavirus cases in the country.

“SLC wishes to reiterate that the second edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) will be held during July and August 2021, as earlier announced,” the board said in a statement.

Sri Lanka has so far recorded more than 200,000 coronavirus cases – half of those having come in the past two months – and some 2000 fatalities. Since mid-May, strict travel restrictions have been imposed across the country, as efforts have been ramped up to curb the rising daily average of cases and deaths.

Concerns over the LPL being hosted in July-August first arose following the postponement of the Indian Premier League earlier this year. Despite SLC’s successful hosting of the inaugural LPL, there were growing doubts over SLCs ability to guarantee a secure bio-bubble for players and staff amidst the growing number of cases.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, there’s no question,” head of SLC’s Medical Committee Prof. Arjuna de Silva conceded to ESPNcricinfo. “Last time we were in the middle of the second wave, but this time it’s a totally different ball game with close to 100 deaths a day.”

SLC, for their part, have remained firm in their stance, assuring player safety citing the success of several inbound international series in the past year. De Silva also added that SLCs intention to hold all matches at a single stadium, the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium in Hambantota, and the fact that it was close to a scarcely used airport in Mattala, meant the LPL was less likely to suffer the same pitfalls as the IPL.

“Our advantage is that we’re fairly well versed in how to maintain a bubble now. I think in terms of international matches, next to England, I think we have hosted the most amount of foreign teams.

“If you try to have it at more than one location that might start to cause problems, that’s where the IPL also struggled I think. Of course in the IPL they had to also fly players to different cities, which complicated matters quite a bit, but even ground transport between different stadiums poses a certain amount of risk.

“Hambantota is the ideal setup, it’s isolated and the airport is also there.”

Further to this, SLC will also be able to enlist the assistance of the Sri Lankan Army – like they had done during the first edition of the tournament – which will provide an additional layer of security.

“The Army is our biggest strength. They provide the security for the players and the bubble, something that would be very costly to do if we had to do it privately.”

De Silva also revealed that players, officials and staff will be subjected to additional testing this time around, though he does expect most, if not all, of the players taking part to be vaccinated by the time the tournament rolls around.

“Everyone will be doing rapid antigen tests before they get on buses. We’re also going to encourage all the players to be vaccinated prior to coming to play in the tournament. The entire Sri Lankan squad has already received the first dose of the Sputnik vaccine.

“I don’t foresee any major issues other than the the possible leakage of different variants into the country, because of so many individuals arriving from different countries. But we will be doing antigen and PCR tests on arrival, to identify potentially infective people early.

“Other countries like England also allow sportsmen to come in, despite them being from red listed countries – it’s a sports exemption – so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

The inaugural edition of the LPL was won by the Jaffna Stallions last year, one of five teams that took part in the tournament. According to SLC, 135 million viewers across television and digital platforms tuned in to watch the final between the Stallions and the Galle Gladiators, with fan engagement through out the tournament generally quite high.

SLC will be hoping for similar numbers this time around, though Sri Lankan fans hoping for live action will have to wait a little longer, with the tournament likely to once again be held behind closed doors.



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