Options After Suspension: Where Does India's T20 League Go From Here?
The seemingly inevitable decision of suspending Indian T20 League 2021 mid-way was taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on May 4, Tuesday.
After Monday’s clash between Kolkata and Bangalore had to be called off owing to Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier testing Covid-19 positive, Tuesday followed a similar trend. After the match between Chennai and Rajasthan had to be rescheduled, Hyderabad’s Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi’s Amit Mishra tested positive for coronavirus, leading BCCI to take the hard call.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,” the Indian T20 League released a statement.
“This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind. These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.
“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021,” the statement further read.
With the Pakistan Super League 2021 getting postponed midway in March early this year, chances of the Indian T20 League facing similar consequences were always there. However, with the Pakistan Cricket Board announcing the resumption of PSL from June, the BCCI will also look at options to finish the T20 league later in 2021 when the perfect window arises.
September window for BCCI to wrap up Indian T20 League?
Apart from the World Test Championship final, the Indian cricket team’s next big assignment will be their tour of England scheduled during August-September, where Virat Kohli and Co. are slated to play five Test matches.
Interestingly, it is the window following India’s tour of England that BCCI can exploit for the completion of the Indian T20 League. As per the Future Tour Programs, South Africa are expected to tour India for three ODIs and three T20Is in September-October, a limited-over series that BCCI can alter to their needs.
With India's tour of England ending on September 18, BCCI could plan to host the 30 remaining Indian T20 League matches in place of the South Africa tour. With the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup scheduled in October-November 2021, the Indian T20 League could serve as a good platform for players to get into the groove.
Potential impact on ICC WTC final
The rise in COVID-19 cases that led to the suspension of the Indian T20 League is likely to disrupt India’s plans for the World Test Championship final. Scheduled to be held from June 18-22, the Men in Blue were expected to leave for England as soon as the Indian T20 League ended in May.
However, the sudden change of plan means both India and New Zealand – the two teams to play the World Test Championship final – will look to take some time off before meeting again in England. The option will be there for BCCI to request the ICC to postpone the World Test Championship final by a month, from June to July.
With India’s tour of England beginning on August 4, India could reach England early in July and complete their quarantine protocols before facing New Zealand in the WTC final, which could be followed by their five-match Test series against hosts England.
Indian T20 League to move out of India, again?
The more lethal second wave of COVID-19 is here to stay for another few months and after the breach of BCCI’s sophisticated bio-bubble this month, the board is unlikely to host the ongoing edition of the Indian T20 League in the country in four months’ time.
Fortunately, while India struggles to cope with the pandemic, the other countries have started healing with numerous sports, even welcoming fans to the stadium. While there remain multiple options for BCCI to host the Indian T20 League, UAE will be the favourites following their success last year.
Outsourcing the Indian T20 League will also allow the BCCI to make arrangements for the bigger, global event, the ICC T20 World Cup in October-November.
Featured Image: Twitter/ IPL