This years Indian Premier League (IPL) will be held between September 19th and November 8th. That has now been confirmed by Brijesh Patel, IPL chairman, together with the fact that, for the second time in its history, it will be held outside India in the UAE.
The difference from last time, 2009, when it was shifted to South Africa because it coincided with the Indian general elections, is that the move this time has been prompted by the continuing Covid-19 crisis in India.
The BCCI, the body responsible for India cricket, and the main stakeholder behind the IPL, were able to firm up the details and the scheduling after it was formally announced earlier this week, that the mens T20 World Cup, due to start in Australia in October, had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The dates represent something of a compromise reached with Star India, the IPLs broadcast partner, who, in 2018, acquired exclusive five-year rights to show the matches live.
They wanted the tournament to end a week later because that would have coincided with the Diwali festival, a peak period for advertising revenue in India.
However, the BCCI have more than one eye on the much-awaited Indian tour of Australia for a four-test series which is due to begin in Brisbane on December 3rd. Given that the team will need to quarantine in Australia for a two week period on arrival in the country first, ending the IPL on the date chosen gives them time to fly-out, isolate and be ready in time for the First Test at The Gabba.
In exchange the IPL is starting a week earlier than originally envisaged, cutting down the number of double headers which are unpopular with the broadcaster because the first game is played before prime time, and the second often finishes after many people have gone to bed.
Match times have been brought forward to 6 pm local time (7.30 IST) and there is also talk of a white ball series with South Africa as well. That, too, would be played in the UAE because it is convenient for Indian TV viewers, and to cut down the amount of travelling which the Indian team will be required to do.