The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is contemplating to start the 2022 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) from March 27, almost a week ahead of the planned start of the tournament, the organisers informed the franchises in a meeting on Saturday.
The meeting was attended by all owners, including the Ambanis, N Srinivasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Parth Jindal among others, besides the promoters of the two new teams – Ahmedabad and Lucknow, sources said.
The discussions started with the potential venues and the BCCI told the franchise owners that it wants to hold the tournament in Maharashtra and the first game is likely to be held in Mumbai. Thereafter, the owners were told that the tournament will start in the last week of March, and will finish in the last week of May, a Cricbuzz report stated.
The Indian board is making all possible efforts to conduct the tournament in India itself and Mumbai and Pune, with four grounds in close proximity of one another, are emerging possible venue options.
The meeting also considered the options of UAE and South Africa as venues. UAE was eventually rejected on the grounds that dew will be a major factor in April and May in the desert kingdom and the results of the matches are largely influenced by the toss with teams batting first having a major disadvantage.
Most owners seem to have preferred Mumbai but some BCCI members were in favour of moving the tournament to South Africa. Eventually, the Greater Mumbai option with four grounds (including Pune) was zeroed in, with the main advantage being the fact that it would not require air travel.
Along with the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai also has two other grounds that have hosted international matches: the Brabourne Stadium and the DY Patil stadium. There is also the Mumbai Cricket Association-run ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex as well as a stadium in Pune, which has also organised the IPL matches in the past.
It was also pointed out that there are sufficient hotels to accommodate the IPL bandwagon. However, the final decision will be made on February 20 based on the Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra, the BCCI told the owners.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has also informed the owners that there is no plan to postpone the auction, nor move it from Bengaluru. It is scheduled to take place on February 12 and 13, as originally planned.
Notably, a majority of the IPL franchise officials and owners, barring the three teams from down South — Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore — are based in Mumbai and by shifting the auction venue, the travel of a lot of people can be avoided. So, there was a thought on shifting the auction venue to Mumbai. However, now it is scheduled to be held in Bengaluru.