IPL playoffs moved from Chennai to Delhi
The first two IPL playoff games, which were scheduled to be played in Chennai on May 21 and 22, have been moved to Delhi. The decision was taken after consensus emerged among the BCCI top brass because political tension in Tamil Nadu over the participation of the Sri Lankan cricketers was unlikely to subside.
The Qualifer 1 will be played between the top-ranked teams in the league and the winner of the match will progress to the final. The Eliminator will have the No. 3 and 4 ranked teams squaring off, and the loser of that contest will be knocked out. The Qualifier 2 and the final will be played in Kolkata.
A section of the BCCI had been pressing for both games to be shifted out of Chennai but the IPL governing council, during its meeting on April 22, deferred the decision, saying it was trying to sort out the issue with the Tamil Nadu government.
ESPNcricinfo understands that once the IPL authorities were told by the Tamil Nadu government that there would be no change in their anti-Sri Lankan stance, consultations were fast-tracked. IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, in Mumbai for the game between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, consulted all the other BCCI office-bearers. "Once he [Shukla] got the nod from the [BCCI] president [N Srinivasan], it was finalized that the Feroz Shah Kotla [in New Delhi] will host both the playoffs that were to be played in Chennai," a BCCI official said.
The decision removed the problem of visiting franchises having to bench Sri Lankan players and field weaker teams in Chennai in the playoffs. During the league phase, several teams have been forced to play in Chennai without their first-choice players. Sunrisers Hyderabad, for instance, benched their captain Kumar Sangakkara for two games prior to the match in Chennai because they wanted rookie Quinton de Kock to have some experience before playing Chennai Super Kings. Once their balance was unsettled, the Sunrisers lost two games in succession, including the one in Chennai.
Kolkata Knight Riders, who have had Sachithra Senanayake emerge as a member of their core group this season, will be forced to take the field without the offspinner when they face the Super Kings on Sunday.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo