On May 4th, due to growing health concerns stemming from the ongoing global pandemic, the BCCI and the IPL GL decided to postpone the remainder of the IPL 2021 season. The crucial factor that led to this call was many foreign players stating their inclination to leave India on account of the rising COVID-19 infections across the league’s franchises.
BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla announced that the IPL’s Governing Council and the BCCI unanimously agreed that the best course of action is to suspend the competition, keeping players’ safety the number one priority.
On May 29th, news broke that the remainder of the Indian Premier League will get played out in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in September and October. One of the reasons cited for this decision is that in those months’ monsoon season will befall India, and logistically, the matches cannot happen in the country at that time.
Therefore, the BCCI had to opt to take the competition abroad. After much discussion regarding what window is the best for the resumption of the league, the September-October timeframe beat out November. The UAE also got chosen as the featured location amidst competition from the UK and Australia. Whether or not that was the correct choice is up for debate. The UAE hosted the league last year, and a change of scenery would have likely done the competition some good, boosting its popularity. However, once September rolls around, at least fans now can rest easy knowing that cricket will return and that they can rely on Sportsadda and IPL’s website for all the latest tips and stats on unfolding cricket events.
How Many Games Will Get Played in the UAE?
The Indian Premier League began on April 9th, and in less than a month, 29 matches out of the scheduled 60 took place. That means that there are 31 matches left to get played in the UAE.
Before the 2021 season, the BCCI announced that six venues and an additional Mumbai option would host all the games, with no team getting to play at their home stadium. Also, per the BCCI, all the matches were set to happen behind closed doors.
With the shifting of location, the BBCI is now looking to allow up to a 50% vaccinated audience. That is if the UAE government permits this. They would likely have asked for such an allowance if the league moved to Australia, as some predicted.
How Popular is Cricket in the UAE?
There is no doubt that football is the most popular sport in the UAE. However, cricket is a close second due to the large expatriate population from Southern Asia in the country. There are many excellent cricket stadiums in the UAE, such as the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, the Al Jazira Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, and the Ajman Oval. Expectations are that, again, at least three of these will play host to the IPL in September and October,
In the past, the UAE national cricket team has managed to qualify for several important tournaments, including two World Cups. Though, many of their national team players are expatriates from other cricketing nations. That is somewhat of a common practice for most UAE national sports teams.
The UAE also hosted the Under-19 World Cup in 2014 and is the home to the International Cricket Council, the sport’s chief governing body. Thus, it should surprise no one that interest in the league in the country will be massive this year, the same as it was in 2020.