The COVID-19 scare has gripped the IPL as two KKR players – Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier – tested positive today. This was followed by the report that three non-playing staff of the CSK contingent which includes bowling coach L Balaji had also tested positive along with five DDCA groundsmen at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
As a result, the match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore was rescheduled though a new date is yet to be announced. Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings, and Delhi Capitals, who took on the Knight Riders on April 29th have been put into hard quarantine.
With the immediate future of IPL 2021 in turmoil, the BCCI is considering shifting the remainder of the tournament to Mumbai to mitigate risks. According to ESPN Cricinfo, that could happen as early as this weekend.
A rejigged tournament could then be held though the schedule is likely to be delayed, despite holding more double-headers. There’s also the possibility that the IPL final will be rescheduled from May 30 to early June.
The greatest challenge that the BCCI needs to tackle in Mumbai is the creation of the IPL bubble, which requires finding hotels for the eight teams and also preparing the stadiums to be match-ready. Fortunately, all the three important stadiums in Mumbai – Wankhede, DY Patil Stadium and Brabourne – were utilized during the first leg of the IPL in April.
The Wankhede Stadium hosted 10 IPL games during the Mumbai leg of the tournament, while the DY Patil Stadium and Brabourne Stadium along with the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Ground in the Bandra-Kurla Complex were used by several teams for training purposes.
According to the ESPN Cricinfo Report, the BCCI team tried contacting several big hotels in Mumbai on Monday to verify whether they were capable of following the BCCI’s Standard Operating Procedures for the duration of IPL 2021. The teams haven’t been informed of the plan formally yet and no BCCI or IPL official has spoken about the plan on record. Although, personnel from several teams believe that they will not be surprised if the BCCI does decide to shift the tournament to Mumbai altogether.
In the initial plan drafted by BCCI which was formally made public on March 7, six venues were chosen across the country to host IPL 2021 games in a two-caravan model – Chennai, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore. The Chennai and Mumbai legs of IPL 2021 have been completed and matches were being held in Delhi and Ahmedabad currently before the first cases of bio-bubble breach emerged. The hosting of games in Kolkata and Bengaluru, which was scheduled from next week onwards is unlikely to take place as travelling entails greater risks for the franchises.