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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has internally intimated the ICC that it intends to move the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 out of India and host the marquee tournament in UAE and Oman in October-November.

The move comes as the Indian cricket board fears a third wave of COVID-19 in the country and it doesn’t want to take any risk considering they were forced to postpone the Indian T20 League 2021 halfway through the season before shifting it to the UAE for completion later this year.

Oman’s capital Muscat has been added as the fourth venue, apart from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, for the T20 tournament that will start in October.

“Yes, the BCCI, during the ICC board meeting, has formally asked for a four-week window to take a final call but, internally, they have said that they would like to keep the hosting rights and wouldn’t mind the tournament being held in UAE and Oman,” a senior board official, privy to ICC board developments, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

“If the Indian T20 League finishes by October 10, then the UAE leg of World T20 can start off in November which would give three weeks’ time to the pitches to be spruced up for the global event. In the meanwhile, the first week can be held in Oman,” he said.

The BCCI led by president Sourav Ganguly is taking their time to make the right decision as it is very difficult to predict how things will unfold in October-November.

“If you think about it practically, India is now reporting around 120,000 plus cases which is close to one third of what was being reported at the end of April and start of this month.

“But sitting on June 28, if you say ‘yes’ to holding the World T20 in India, how can you predict the health situation in October if there is a third wave,” the seasoned official asked.

The BCCI is also worried that while hosting the ICC T20 World Cup in India if any team gets affected by COVID-19, it will jeopardize the whole event.

“Look, everyone including BCCI brass knows that monsoon is not a good enough reason and it is COVID-19, with almost 2500 crore revenue riding on the tournament.

“In a 16-team event, if there is one team that gets affected in a bubble with multiple cases, it won’t be like the Indian T20 League. For weaker national teams, you won’t get ready replacements outside 14 or 15 men. There are teething issues,” an official of an associate nation, which is a part of the tournament, said.

Another concern is that several foreign cricketers might skip the tournament if it is held in India considering the COVID-19 situation in the country.

“They would certainly come and play the Indian T20 League in the UAE and would be more than happy to play the T20 World Cup over there.

“But one can be rest assured that there would be apprehensions with regards to health safety with players’ families and their boards and the local cricket association would give them an update on health threat perceptions. It would be easier said than done,” the official said.

Featured photo: Twitter/SouravGanguly

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