UAE, SA, Bangladesh shortlisted as alternative IPL venues
The United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and South Africa, in addition to India, have been shortlisted as venues to host IPL 2014. The IPL governing council is likely to deliberate on the issue on February 13, after the player auction in Bangalore.
According to a BCCI official, the schedule and venues have not been announced as the IPL governing council is awaiting the dates of the federal elections in India, which are expected to be made public in the last week of February and are likely to be held in April-May. With the World Twenty20 final slotted for April 6, the IPL is likely to start around April 10 and the organisers have been scouting for alternative venues.
"It is not a question of who is the favourite to host. We are open to a few venues: Middle East (UAE), South Africa and Bangladesh. South Africa is open to host but we have to consider the logistics and the timings before we make up our mind," a BCCI official told ESPNcricinfo. "In my personal opinion, South Africa is a good contender. But UAE is also there. There are too many matches. So we will discuss everything at the Governing Council."
South Africa has emerged as the friendliest venue among the three overseas countries. As far as the UAE is concerned, there are certain hurdles. According to an IPL insider, the UAE is "not viable", considering the staging will require "too many government clearances". He also said: "The Middle East has not been a spectator-friendly venue of late."
When it comes to Bangladesh, there could be two stumbling blocks. With the country staging three major cricket events - the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, followed by the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 - the pitches will likely be worn down by the time the IPL begins. Besides, staging IPL matches in and around Dhaka could be logistically difficult, due to a limited availability of five-star or seven-star hotels. It is understood that IMG, the event managers of the IPL, had sent some of its staff to Bangladesh and the UAE to do a recce over the last week.
The BCCI hopes to host marquee games, especially the play-offs in India. Depending on the election dates, the tournament is likely to be divided into two halves - at home and overseas. "If the elections are held in April, then the first half will be played abroad. But if the elections are in May, we may play the initial games in India," another BCCI official said.
If the BCCI decides to shift the IPL to another country, it will be the second time that the tournament will be staged overseas. In 2009, the second edition of IPL was shifted to South Africa after the tournament clashed with federal elections and the Indian government declined to provide security to cricketers.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo; Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo