Curtailed IPL is one option but no one knows when it will start: feel owners

Mumbai: A curtailed Indian Premier League was one of the options discussed at Saturday’s meeting between BCCI and the eight IPL franchise owners in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic even as Kings XI Punjab’s Ness Wadia said that he doesn’t know when the T20 event will commence.

The BCCI on Friday suspended the IPL from 29 March to 15 April due to government-imposed travel restrictions and refusal of three states to host any matches. “We cannot and no one, you know, is in a position today to say when it’s going to start. We will review the situation after two to three weeks. And hopefully, by then the cases will reduce,” Wadia told reporters after IPL owners’ meeting with BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah.

A Board source, however, stuck to listing the options that were discussed at the meeting. “There were six to seven options discussed during the meeting between team owners and BCCI including a curtailed IPL,” the source told PTI on conditions of anonymity here. Wadia made it clear that at this moment, the health safety measures are paramount. In India, there have been two deaths and more than 80 positive COVID-19 cases, resulting in a government directive to shut the fans out of sporting events to avoid large gatherings.

“The second option right now is that teams could be divided into two groups of four and then top four go into the play-offs. The third option is increase of double headers (played on weekdays),” the source informed. The fourth option is holding all matches in just a couple of centres with restricted movements of players, support staff and TV crew. Another option is to play behind closed doors and has all the 60 games in a shorter time frame which will ensure that the stakeholders do not lose out truckloads of money. The source also confirmed that shifting the tournament abroad was not discussed at all in the meeting. COVID-19 has resulted in more than 5,000 deaths globally.

Wadia said: “BCCI, IPL and (official broadcaster) Star (Sports) are clear that we are not looking at a financial loss.” “At the meeting, everyone agreed that human beings come first and finance comes second. We are here to adhere to governments directives. I don’t see anything being decided before the end of the month. We have to wait and watch and hope the situation improves,” Wadia further said. “No decision can be taken until there is clarity. Clarity will only be in two-three weeks. As far as your next question is will foreign players come on? I don’t know. There is a ban till 15 April and then we’ll see. So if IPL happens, great if it doesn’t happen, so be it,” Wadia further added. Delhi Capitals owner Parth Jindal tried to downplay the discussion on options and said that there will be another meeting later to discuss other modalities.

“As things progress and evolve, BCCI will call for another meeting to discuss all the options. Today’s meeting was to tell us that they are watching the situation, all of us are watching and we will take a call in due course,” said Jindal. Asked whether there will be more double-headers the season, Jindal said, “We didn’t discuss anything, we need to assess the situation and the health and safety of public is most important consideration. “Ones the situation comes under control all the options can be discussed.”

NT Bureau