Unlike the previous two occasions when the IPL had clashed with the general election, the upcoming edition of the T20 league commencing on March 23 would be played entirely in India, on a home-and-away basis. On Tuesday, the BCCI released the full schedule for the league stage of the tournament. The schedule for the first 17 matches had been released earlier. It is learnt that Chennai, in all likelihood, is going to host the final, tentatively on May 12.
In 2009 and 2014, the IPL had been moved overseas when it clashed with the general election. In 2009, the whole tournament was played in South Africa, while in 2014 UAE hosted the first 20 matches of the tournament. The BCCI, however, worked overtime this term to ensure that this year’s IPL stays in India. According to BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri, the cricket board kept the sentiment of the home fans in consideration.
“It’s basically timely coordination with all agencies. It has been a phenomenal effort by the IPL team,” Johri told The Indian Express.
In a press release, the BCCI said: “The BCCI is pleased to announce that not only will the entire tournament be held in India, but also each of the eight franchises will play their seven home games at their respective venues.
“The Board thanks the Election Commission of India and local police authorities at each venue for their cooperation. This has ensured that the league sticks to the home-and-away format.”
Franchises lose revenue when the IPL goes overseas. Unlike in India, for an IPL on foreign soil, the total gate receipts are equally distributed between eight franchises. Also, IPL sides have Indian commercial partners who always prefer to have it at home. According to a source, however, there was no pressure from the franchises to host the IPL in India this year.
The BCCI schedule has naturally made the franchises happy. Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore congratulated the IPL team. “A big congrats and thanks to the IPL and the team there, because they have done an amazing job of putting a schedule together in an election year. All eight franchises are playing in their home venues, which is amazing,” Mysore said.
He also thanked Kolkata Police for their cooperation. “I also have to acknowledge and thank the Kolkata Police, because even before any of these discussions and we started talking about it, the first thing that the Commissioner of Police and the Additional Commissioner told me that they wanted to do everything to ensure that our games will be held in Kolkata only and that we don’t have to go out anywhere, which is so reassuring and fantastic.
“So when I look at the dates and look at our travel schedule and election year and what our expectations were, I think it’s almost a miracle that it’s all been pulled together. So, fingers crossed that there will be no changes to this. I think (about) our fans as well, for them the opportunity to see us play all our seven home games here is fantastic.”
Meanwhile, it is learnt that the BCCI has shortlisted the venues for the Qualifiers and the Eliminator. But given the variables involved in an election year, they are willing to take one step at a time.