The last few months have been quite hectic for the Indian cricket fans. The cricketing action started after a long hiatus, thanks to the raging pandemic, with the delayed start to the IPL 2020 season. Due to the high number of cases in India, the tournament was played in the UAE. After the conclusion of the IPL came the international matches, with a grueling tour of Australia, and now with the English team touring India. In the meanwhile, the number of COVID cases in India decreased considerably, and the BCCI enthusiastically announced the schedule for the 2021 edition of the IPL, which is slated to be held from 9th April to 30th May.
As soon as the schedule and fixtures were announced, IPL betting sites have started putting out their odds for outright winners as well as other betting markets.
Armed with the experience of having successfully conducted the 2020 edition, the BCCI is quite confident of hosting the tournament in India and had also announced back in January that no backup venues were being considered. Everything seemed to be going well too, with the number of COVID cases in India getting in control, and the normal life resuming.
In order to get better control over things, the BCCI had announced that the tournament will be conducted only at six venues, viz. Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata. This was done in order to ensure that teams would have the chance of minimum travel in between matches, and would be able to establish a more secure `bio-bubble´.
Also, the matches are organized in such a way that no team will be playing on their home ground, so that the teams of Rajasthan, Punjab, and Hyderabad, whose home venues are not included, are not at a disadvantage.
Rising number of cases
As the start of the tournament inches closer, India has seen a huge surge in the number of COVID cases. Health experts have said that India is facing a second wave, and the number of cases is expected to peak in the month of April and May, right when the IPL will be underway.
While the highest number of cases are concentrated only in a few states, and not the entire country, a cause for concern for the BCCI will be that three of their planned venues, Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad seem to be the worst affected. It seems to be a real possibility now, that for the first time in IPL history, Mumbai may have to be left out as a venue. In case that does happen, the BCCI will have to reassign the matches that were scheduled to be held at the Wankhede.
As this will be the second IPL to be held in the pandemic era, the BCCI now has a better understanding of how to conduct the tournament and has already put out strict guidelines for the franchises. That the matches will be played behind closed doors, without any spectators, is almost a given now.
The board will be creating 12 different bubbles, one each for the franchise, 2 for the match officials, and 2 for the broadcasting staff. Anyone entering the bubble, except for the players playing in the ongoing English tour, or overseas players who are already playing within a bubble, who will have to take chartered flights or team bus, will have to compulsorily quarantine for a week, and take three COVID tests before entering the bubble.
The board has also employed `bubble integrity managers´ who will ensure that there is no breach of protocols during the course of the tournament. Like the previous edition, all the individuals involved in the IPL will be subject to testing every fifth day to minimize the risk of a spread of infection.
While the second wave of COVID cases could not have come at a worse time for the BCCI, it will surely go all out to ensure that the tournament is conducted in a safe manner