Only three weeks to go for the start of IPL 2020, there is still no clarity on the schedule of the 60-match tournament, to be played across the UAE. The delay in announcing the fixtures list – which the franchises had been told to expect by August 20 – stems from Covid-19-related travel restrictions between the emirates.
There has been a spike in infection cases in the UAE, and mandatory checks have been ramped up at the border, making travel into Abu Dhabi more time-consuming than before. ESPNcricinfo understands that the IPL Governing Council members who are in the UAE have been speaking to officials of the Emirates Cricket Board – headed by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE’s minister of culture, youth and social development – to try and get the matter resolved urgently.
It’s not only that the tournament is likely to be split – the plan is to host 21 of the 56 group-stage games each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and 14 in Sharjah, with the playoffs in the first two emirates. In addition, Abu Dhabi is the base for two teams, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, who will have to cross the border several times.
Though officials of the BCCI and IPL Governing Council have so far not commented on this, it seems to be no more than a matter of logistics, of synchronising team travel schedules so they comply with Covid-19-specific border entry regulations. Matt Boucher, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Cricket, believes the border issue, however, should not be too big a problem if everyone concerned follows the protocols put in place by the BCCI (for the event) and of the UAE government.