Five years after hosting its last ICC event, the 2016 men's T20 World Cup, India will be ready to stage the same tournament in 2021, the BCCI has stressed. Despite the country still struggling under the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sourav Ganguly and Jay Shah, the board president and secretary, have expressed confidence in India's ability to host next year's competition, scheduled for October-November, with ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney optimistic that it will be possible for fans to attend.
India was confirmed as the tournament's host earlier this year following the postponement of the 2020 edition. Australia had been due to stage the T20 World Cup this year, but has instead been awarded the 2022 competition.
As ESPNcricinfo reported in August, Sri Lanka and the UAE are understood to be among the back-up venues if India is unable to host the tournament, with nearly 50,000 Covid-19 cases still being registered every day in the country. But Ganguly and Shah insisted in an ICC release to start the countdown to the tournament that India would be fine to host, and said that the BCCI would ensure all necessary protocols were in place.
"The BCCI will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the health and safety of everyone concerned in this showpiece event is taken care of," Shah said. "While we are determined to provide a rich cricket-viewing experience, I would also like to assure the ICC and member boards that India is known for its warm hospitality and we will make you feel at home.
"In these times of pandemic when there are severe restrictions, the BCCI believes in the policy of innovating and adapting, and I am confident that we will overcome every challenge."
Ganguly said it was "a matter of great honour" for India to be hosting the tournament, and said that he was sure players would be excited about the prospect of playing there.
"I have enjoyed being part of ICC events as a player and know from experience that nothing beats the buzzing atmosphere of a global cricket event with millions around the world watching every game," he said. "I now look forward to playing my part as an administrator as we prepare to host the prestigious event."
More immediately, India is due to host England at the start of next year, followed by the 2021 IPL. While Ganguly has insisted that the BCCI will look to stage the tour in India, the board signed a hosting agreement with the Emirates Cricket Board in September which will effectively act as a safety net for both the England series and the IPL.
Sawhney, the ICC's chief executive, said that there were "learnings" from other member boards - as well as the IPL - that the ICC would look to incorporate into its planning for the T20 World Cup, while expressing his optimism that it would be possible for fans to attend games.
"We're really excited about taking the tournament back to India after 2016. We're working really closely together with the BCCI to put a stellar tournament together - and most importantly, one that is safe and secure, and one that fans from across the globe can come and enjoy themselves.
"We've been looking at all the learnings we've had from various boards which have taken some cricket together right now, especially also the Dream11 IPL, which I think has done a great job in terms of putting a tournament of this scale together."