All-star match, no-ball umpires - IPL returns with upgrades
Four teams will contest the women's challenge, and concussion substitutes will make an appearance
For the first time, a one-off all-star fixture, comprising players from all the eight franchises, will precede the IPL. The match will be played three days before the tournament's opening match, which, as reported in December, is will be played on March 29. Both the opening match and the IPL final will be played in Mumbai, the home base of defending champions Mumbai Indians.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the two teams for the all-star match are likely to be formed with players from the four franchises in the north and east of India - Kings XI Punjab, Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders - and the four teams in the south and west - Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai. No venue has been finalised for the match yet.
It appears that the idea of the all-star match came from BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel. Both were present at the governing council meeting on Monday in New Delhi where the decision was made.
Timings of evening matches unchanged
One of the key points discussed at the meeting concerned the start timings for the evening matches, an issue both the IPL and host broadcaster Star India have been discussing over the past few years. It is understood that Star wanted an earlier start than 8pm IST, because many matches stretch past midnight. However, several teams pointed out that starting early could hand the advantage to one team because of dew.
Consequently, the IPL decided to leave the timing for the evening matches unchanged. Ganguly also said that there would just be four double-headers [days with both an afternoon and an evening match] in the 2020 IPL, continuing with the trend established over the past few years to reduce the number of day matches with the tournament being played in summer.
The IPL did not announce the main tournament schedule even though the tournament is starting in two months' time. BCCI officials did not reveal the reason for the delay, but it is learnt that the schedule is likely to be out later this week. One plausible reason could be to the late arrival of the Australia, England and New Zealand players. As per the availability periods listed pre-IPL auction, players from these three countries will arrive after March 31, as they would be busy with various bilateral series as well as the Sheffield Shield final.
Four teams for women's T20 exhibition matches
Taking another step forward towards a women's IPL, the BCCI has decided to add another team to the women's T20 exhibition matches it has been conducting over the last two IPL seasons. In 2018, two teams - Supernovas and Trailblazers - contested a one-off exhibition match, which finished in a last-ball thriller. Last year, a third team - Velocity - was added with four matches hosted in Jaipur, which ran parallel to the main IPL playoffs.
For the 2020 season, a fourth team, not named yet, has been added to the mix. It is understood there will be seven matches, including the final, that are likely to be scheduled once again around the IPL playoffs.
No-ball umpires get the nod
The IPL has also decided to let an off-field match official to supervise no-balls. The move is bound to be welcomed by the players considering the errors by on-field umpires over the years that have left many captains fuming.
Last IPL, Virat Kohli, leading the Royal Challengers in a crucial match against Mumbai, called the umpiring standards "ridiculous" and club standard. Incidentally, the no-ball delivered by Lasith Malinga went undetected by S Ravi, one of the on-field umpires who was removed from the ICC's Elite Panel last year.
Taking cognizance of the players' complaints, the IPL had discussed the issue last year, with Patel saying that an exclusive match official, separate to the TV and fourth umpire, would be in charge of supervising no-balls. Late last year, the ICC opted to reintroduce the no-ball umpire on a trial basis. The ICC, however, had entrusted the job to the regular TV umpire.
Concussion substitutes to be introduced
The IPL governing council also approved the move to allow concussion substitutes from the 2020 edition. The match referee will be the final authority on who could come in as a substitute with the option of disallowing replacements if they are deemed not to be like-for-like.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo