IPL venue decision in 'couple of days'
The BCCI has again deferred, by a "couple of days", announcing the offshore venue of the 2014 IPL but said it was working on hosting the bulk of the matches in India. India's Election Commission announced the dates of the federal elections on Wednesday morning, following which the BCCI top brass met in Delhi to discuss the IPL venues and schedule.
"We discussed foreign venues but we haven't decided [on any] yet as," IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal said. "We need a couple of days more to finalise the offshore venue." However, he hinted that a majority of the matches will be played in India after May 16, when the election process is completed. "Now that the elections dates have been finalised, we are working towards hosting bulk of the matches in India. Since it is the Indian Premier League, we need to accommodate as many matches in India."
Biswal, BCCI president N Srinivasan, secretary Sanjay Patel and vice-president Rajiv Shukla, all of whom have been authorised to take the call on IPL venues by the BCCI working committee, were in Delhi along with IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman. There are three offshore venues in contention -South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Bangladesh.
An IPL insider revealed that Cricket South Africa was keen on hosting the full tournament but there were a couple of major roadblocks, from the IPL's perspective, to staging matches in South Africa. "Since Pepsi [the IPL's title sponsor] hardly has any presence in the South African market, they would be terribly unhappy if the tournament is to move there," he said. "Besides, if the tournament is to be split between another country and India, it is always better from the teams' perspective to play it in conditions that are similar to India. South Africa is an obstacle in that regard."
However, two franchises are believed to have written to the BCCI in the last couple of days asking that it not be played in the UAE. With last year's corruption scandal having dented the image of the IPL, shifting the tournament to the Gulf could mean the clouds of fixing might hover over the league again; the UAE is considered to be the haven of India's betting mafia.
Some of the other franchises, though, feel both these teams are trying their best to not have the tournament in Asian conditions since they have built their squads assuming the bulk of the IPL was to be played in South Africa. "Neither side has a top-quality spinner, so they're cribbing," a franchise official said.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo