The IPL's Governing Council will meet on Sunday to finalise details of the 2020 tournament. Here's a look at what could happen and what's likely to be discussed
What's the meeting about?
The IPL Governing Council is still awaiting a clearance from the Indian government to host the IPL in the UAE, and according to chairman Brijesh Patel, it "will come" soon. The BCCI has already submitted a letter of intent to the Emirates Cricket Board, and with that out of the way, the council will meet on Sunday primarily to finalise the fixtures and come up with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure safety as players from various countries gather in the UAE. The window for the tournament is between September 19 and November 10.
Who will attend?
The meeting will be chaired by Patel, and also feature BCCI president Sourav Ganguly. Other prominent members expected are IPL COO and BCCI interim chief, Hemang Amin, BCCI secretary Jay Shah, and BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal.
What are the pressing issues? What is an SOP?
Moving the tournament abroad itself isn't new to the BCCI, but the main point of contention is the safety of doing it this time round. In comparison to, say, the recently concluded bilateral series between West Indies and England, the IPL will have a lot more variables: there will be eight teams, for starters, and they will have to be monitored strictly over a duration that could end up being close to three months.
That is where SOPs come in - the procedures that will be defined in microscopic detail and enforced strictly to avoid any infections to the people involved.
The SOPs will be drawn across various categories. For example, with something like the testing process: who will be authorised to conduct the tests, and how often will they conduct them? For a player who might arrive later than the rest of his squad, will there be a quarantine period? And how many tests will be required before he can play? What happens if a player tests positive, and what will that mean for the rest of the team given they'll all be in the same "bubble"?
Take that level of detail and apply it across the board to matters like who will be in charge of creating bio-secure bubbles - the franchises or the board - how populated those bubbles can be (will it involve just the team or even the support staff from, say, the hotels?), and how they will be secured against breaches.
What else needs clarifying
Home grounds and match day protocols: With the fixtures, franchises will be assigned "home" grounds across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah that will likely be on rolling basis. A cap on the number of people allowed at the ground on match days is also expected to be laid down.
Closed doors or not? UAE board secretary Mubashir Usmani believes that the active cases in the UAE will reduce from the current figure of about 6,200 by the time the IPL rolls around. He said the board will look to allow spectators to the tune of 30-50% capacity at the stadiums. Given that most sporting events are happening behind closed doors, the council will have to take a call on this.
When can teams land in the UAE? Chennai Super Kings are already aiming to get to Dubai in the second week of August to kickstart training, and various franchises are reportedly looking at the August 20-22 window.
What about the latecomers? Some players from Australia and England are expected to be engaged in an ODI series till the second week of September, and Lasith Malinga and Isuru Udana could be held up by the Lankan Premier League which is scheduled to end on September 20. Quarantine protocols will dictate how early such players will feature in the tournament.
Player replacements Franchises are keen to understand how replacements will work during the tournament. The IPL normally allows mid-season replacements in case of injuries, and this time there will be the added possibility of players pulling out of the tournament for a variety of reasons.
Will there be AB? There is also the matter of South Africa's borders remaining closed both ways at the moment, which adds another dimension to the logistical issues for franchises, particularly to CSK and RCB, who account for six of the ten South African players in the league.
Will Indian team players train together at Motera before the IPL? ESPNcricinfo understands that there was an idea to set up a national team camp in late August, and that franchises are waiting to hear on whether or not that will happen.
Will families be allowed? Given that players could likely spend a minimum of two months inside hotels - longer for those who will play India's Tests in Australia in December - there is the very serious question of whether families will be allowed to travel with them.