With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across India, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been indefinitely postponed. March 29 was the initially allotted date for the commencement of the tournament, but due to the coronavirus outbreak and the announcement of a lockdown all across the nation, it was pushed back to the 15 of April and now that the span of the lockdown has been extented to the 3rd of May, the future of the 13th edition of the tournament seems to be uncertain.
However, amidst all of this, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board (SLCB) have stepped up and offered a helping hand to the BCCI by proposing to host the IPL in the island nation. They sent out a letter to their Indian counterparts regarding the same.
SLC President, Shammi Silva, said the following to the Sinhala daily, Lankadeepa, as Esp Cricinfo quoted him, “Apparently it will cost the BCCI and its stakeholders more than $500 million to cancel the IPL, so perhaps they can minimise those losses by hosting the tournament in another country.”
“If they play it in Sri Lanka, it’s easy for Indian audiences to watch the games on TV. There’s precedent for this because they’ve played the IPL in South Africa before. We’re waiting for the Indian board to respond to our proposal,” he added.
The IPL has been held outside India on two occasions due to the Lok Sabha Elections in the country. After a successful first edition, the IPL in 2009 had to be shifted to South Africa, where, the now defunct Deccan Chargers went on to win the tournament under Adam Gilchrist‘s captaincy, defeating the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 6 runs in the Final. Five years later, the first two weeks of the 7th edition of the tournament were played at the UAE, where we had quite a few entertaining matches, such as the game between Rajasthan Royals and the Kolkata Knight Riders. The Royals went on to win the game after a thrilling super over.
The president said that they will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the IPL runs smoothly if played in their country.
“If the Indian board does agree to play the tournament here, we’re ready to provide facilities in line with the requirements and recommendations of medical professionals. It would be a substantial source of income for Sri Lankan cricket as well,” Silva said.
As of today, Sri Lanka has registered over 230 COVID-19 cases with 7 people losing their lives.
In India, the condition is worse as more than 13,000 cases have been confirmed so far with more than 400 deaths. This might be down to the fact that the lockdown imposed in Sri Lanka is even more severe than that in most parts of India, with a curfew having been put in place for almost four weeks.
The Sri Lanka government is trying its best to eradicate the virus from the country. If the goal is achieved, then the BCCI can consider Sri Lanka as an IPL venue. However, even then, the government clearance would be required to host such a big tournament.
At the moment, the BCCI is planning to organise the event in the month of September to the early days of October before the T20 World Cup in Australia or if the ICC, Cricket Australia and other stakeholders agree to the fact that the T20 World Cup in Australia cannot be conducted, host the
IPL during that window. Now with the offer from the Sri Lankan Cricket Board, a 3rd option has opened up for the BCCI.