IPL 2014 March 19, 2014

UAE to host 20 IPL games in first phase

ESPNcricinfo staff

'Franchises may be happier with IPL's India schedule'

The first phase of the IPL will have 20 matches in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai from April 16-30, the organisers have announced. The opening match of IPL 2014 will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on April 16 between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.

The first phase of the IPL was moved to the UAE after its schedule coincided with the Indian elections, slated to begin from April 17. However, it is likely that nearly two-thirds of the tournament could be played in India. A BCCI statement said that state administrations had responded to an initiative by the federal government and indicated their willingness to hold matches. This, the BCCI said, led it to believe that the IPL could be staged in India from the first week of May.

If the IPL returns to India in the first week of May, the fixtures will have to be tweaked according to the availability of the venues. The states where polling ends in April can host the games from May 1, whereas cities that go to vote on May 7 and 12 can stage matches from May 13 onwards. This may result in additional venues, including Kochi and Cuttack, being roped in. However, a BCCI insider was optimistic that the Indian leg could be played at traditional venues. "We will try and host matches in home cities where we get permissions to. I am hopeful," he said.

It is understood the tournament launch will take place on April 15 in Abu Dhabi. According to the schedule released by the IPL, five of the 15 days of the first phase will be double-headers that will be played over the weekends. The first match will start at 2.30pm local time (1030 GMT, 1600 IST) and the evening game at 6.30pm (1430 GMT, 2000 IST).

Of the eight franchises, Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad are scheduled to play three home games in the UAE. The other four teams will play two home games in the first leg. If the IPL returns to India in the first week of May, Super Kings, Royals, Royal Challengers and Sunrisers will play four games at home, while the other teams will host five home games.

The schedule for the first phase was chalked out to allow each of the eight franchises to play at least once in all three cities, and also feature in at least one of the double-header weekends. Abu Dhabi and Dubai will host seven matches each while six games will be played in Sharjah.

There were concerns about Sharjah as a venue, given its associations with match-fixing in the past, but assurances from the UAE government and cricket officials in the country were adequate for the BCCI to believe that the tournament could be conducted in a corruption-free manner.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 25, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    I think KXIP,MI,CSK and SRH/RCB will be top 4....

  • Rajarathinam on March 21, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    This time i don't feel CSK is the strongest after the IPL auction... But after this time's auction every single team has got some match winners in the form of foreign and local players ... this IPL would be a treat to watch as it will no longer be one siders ...

    Mumbai Indian have huge chance with the side they have this time though i hope chennai wins ...

  • santhosh on March 20, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    I think CSk have a grt chance of dominating in UAE.. They r having high quality spin n slow bowlers n the Chennai climate r the same as in UAE

  • santhosh on March 20, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    I seriously believe SACHIN TENDULKAR would be a great crowd puller in the UAE. Ppl remember his sand storm sharjah innings. I hope IPL and Mumbai Indians management would make full use of his stardom. Ppl like SHARUKH KHAN, PRIETY ZINDA are also great crowd puller.

  • Anish on March 20, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    It's a great decision indeed! Moreover, it provides the food for thought to believe that the future prospects of IPL would get better and better from here on in terms of its popularity and commercial interests. There can't be anything better than globalizing the league for the sake of the game. It is a welcome move on the part of the BCCI and IPL franchises and they're on the right track. It remains to be seen as to how far they progress to capture the attention of cricket lovers towards the league. Time will tell that. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best! :-)

  • Yohan on March 20, 2014, 8:03 GMT

    Dubai ground is a wonderful plalce to watch cricket . i have been there twice , recently watched a T20I between top ranked SL and Pakistan which was almost filled ground on Friday .During that tour all matches on fridays were huge successes . but not much crowd on mid week matches . So if indian expats turned out weekend matches will be full house and reasonable crowd for mid week ones .

  • syed on March 20, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    I don't think all the 20 matches will have full capacity crowd. Spectators point of view it will never be the same outside India.

  • Anil on March 20, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    A lot of people here have talked about lack of public support in UAE. Well, the simple reason for low attendances in the past was Indians in UAE were not all that interested in Pak matches. Mark my words, ths grounds will be packed for IPL...Indian fans always put their money where their mouth is, and thats why 80% of global revenues come from India.......please dont underestimate the average Indian cricket fan (even though the Indian team may be disappointing in comparison)

  • Subhasish on March 20, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    I see someone mentioning the fact that SA faced elections in 2009 when the IPL was conducted there and how they managed to conduct both simultaneously. Well, let us not compare apples and oranges....just look at the size of the elections in both the countries, the geographical spread and the fact that it is spread over so many days! The already sparse security forces have to be deployed from one part of the country to another....and moreover, the number of people coming for one IPL match in Mumbai / Chennai or Kolkata could fill up three stadiums in SA!!

  • Mohan on March 20, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    UAE folks can afford time and money. Its better to host IPL permanently over there.

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