Further cloud over IPL 2020 as India goes into a lockdown

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The 13th season of Indian Premier League faces further uncertainty, maybe even possible cancellation, as India entered into a three-week lockdown starting March 25 to combat the rapidly spreading Coronavirus pandemic. IPL 2020, originally scheduled to start on March 29, was deferred until April 15 but amid the nationwide lockdown, it is becoming increasingly difficult for stakeholders of the IPL to chart an alternate plan.

Before the lockdown was announced on Tuesday (March 24) evening by the Government of India, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said status quo had remained on the fate of the season in the wake of the developing situation. “I can’t say anything at the moment. We are at the same place where we were on the day we postponed. Nothing has changed in the last 10 days. So, I don’t have an answer to it. Status quo remains,” Ganguly said.

Ganguly and representatives of the eight franchises had a teleconference last week and were scheduled to get on-call again on Tuesday – a meeting that was cancelled. No further meetings are lined up just yet although BCCI will be forced to reconvene given the shutdown will extend till April 14 – a day before the rescheduled start date of the tournament.

One of the eight options discussed at the IPL Governing Council Meeting of March 14 was to extend the window of the tournament till late May or early June. BCCI was open to calling other boards to discuss the possibility of a reworked itinerary but with countries closing borders and imposing stringent travel restrictions, such a move, too, could prove to be futile.

The possibility of rescheduling the tournament altogether to later this year is subject to conflict with ICC’s Future Tours Program, which could be forced into a re-jig of its own. India tour Sri Lanka in June for a full series, also marks the start of the ODI Championships. India have a proposed series against Zimbabwe as well as the Asia Cup T20 in September – the final leg of their build-up to the T20 World Cup in October.

Sporting events worldwide have been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Football leagues in Europe, the NBA in USA have been suspended while the Tokyo Olympics has been pushed to 2021. All international cricket has been either suspended or cancelled. England have pushed back the start of their season until at least May 28. The BCCI itself was forced to call off the series against South Africa earlier this month, and the situation has only worsened since then.

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