IPL 2020: How will the tournament be different this edition?
The 13th edition of the IPL is all set to be held in the UAE for the second time, starting Saturday. UAE previously hosted the tournament in 2014, while this would be the third occasion of the tournament being played overseas.
The lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to grip the nation in cricket fever once again with its flawless T20 action. While the tournament is all set to be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this term, it is certainly not going to be as lucrative, owing to the prevailing tough circumstances, surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already made a lot of sacrifices this term, which includes severe financial loss, as it has still decided to go ahead with the tournament to avoid a big-time loss. Consequently, things would be a lot different this time around, as we take a look at the same.
UAE serves as the venue: The first and most obvious difference is the venue, as the pandemic has currently made India a hotspot of the Coronavirus. Under the current circumstances, it would have been near impossible to create a safe environment for the tournament. UAE was the next available option, as the nation has already hosted the tournament before and is well aware of the needs. Furthermore, with a lesser infection rate than India, it serves as the perfect venue under the present situation.
Longest IPL ever: Despite the number of teams being the same, the tournament would be stretching along for 53 days than its rather usual tenure of 49 days. This is mostly owing to the fact that there would be lesser double-headers. The hot and humid climatic conditions in the middle-east gulf would make it difficult to host double-headers on a regular basis. As a result, the timings of the matches have also been brought forward, keeping in mind the broadcaster's interest, who want the evening time as their prime slot.
Empty stands? The pandemic has compelled all to maintain a safe distance from everyone, terming it as social-distancing. Based on the same, it is being wondered as to how to manage the crowd in the stands. Although, as of now, sporting events across the globe are being held without spectators, the UAE officials are wondering whether the same should be followed here, or a limited number of spectators could be allowed. Nonetheless, it would certainly be different than regular, as IPL matches mostly draw a packed crowd.
Lesser team strength: The teams would be on a disadvantage in terms of the strength of their squad. While the teams have a cap of 25 players in the squad, the IPL governing council has made it clear that not more than 24 players would be allowed to travel this term. As a result, each side will have a player less, which could quite possibly be a difference-maker for the success of their side.
Players need to be extra careful: This is definitely going to be the toughest season for the players, not in terms of their gameplay, but their safety, as they would also be responsible for their own. While wearing a mask is mandatory on most occasions, along with social-distancing, they will also have to be careful regarding the touchpoints, be it at the venue or the team hotel. Furthermore, coaches have been specifically instructed to check on the same, as a limited number of players are to be allowed at a time during the nets session.
Sponsors and finances: The finances have taken a hit during this pandemic, and the same has been the case for IPL. Interestingly, Chinese mobile-manufacturing company VIVO pulled out owing to financial loss and the ongoing India-China border standoff. As a result, Dream 11 has become the new title sponsor. However, it is paying half the amount of VIVO (₹222 crore from ₹444 crore). Consequently, the prize money, too, would be less this term.