Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
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The IPL governing council will meet in Delhi on Friday evening to sort out prevailing confusion over venues for the home matches of Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab and also finalise the IPL's itinerary. The meeting assumes significance in the wake of the Rajasthan High Court entertaining a public interest litigation as to why Jaipur, which Mumbai had picked as an alternate home venue, should not host IPL matches because of the drought situation in the state. With uncertainty over Jaipur hosting matches, the GC will consider Dharamsala, Kanpur and Mohali among other options.
Mumbai and Kings XI, along with Rising Pune Supergiants, were affected once the Bombay High Court ruled that the IPL had to move out of Maharashtra, with parts of the state facing severe drought. Kings XI had originally chosen Nagpur as their second home venue for three matches on May 7, 9 and 15. The court allowed only the May 1 derby between Supergiants and Mumbai in Pune to go on as per the original schedule.
Consequently Mumbai picked Jaipur as the venue to host their three home matches (May 8, 13 and 15), and Supergiants opted for Visakhapatnam for their matches originally scheduled for Pune (May 10, 17, 21).
On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court asked the state government to file a comprehensive response as to how it plans to supply water not just for the IPL matches, but beyond that in the summer months. In an earlier hearing on April 21 the court had questioned the BCCI and the state government as to why the IPL needed to move to Jaipur when large parts of Rajasthan were affected by drought.
With the court scheduling the next hearing for May 3, both the BCCI and Mumbai Indians are edgy since waiting for its decision might be cutting it too fine. Both the franchise and IPL officials are tight-lipped about back-up venues. Dharamsala, Mohali and Kanpur have been reported in the media, but nothing is confirmed.
Curiously Kings XI had picked Dharamsala as the alternative for their matches originally scheduled for Nagpur and had even sent out a media release to announce it. However, the IPL has not confirmed this. Although no official from either the franchise or the BCCI has made any public comment it is understood that the board's top brass were peeved by the franchise approaching the Himachal Pradesh government for a clearance.
It is learned that Anurag Thakur, the BCCI secretary, who had been critical of the Himachal government for denying adequate security for the World T20 match between India and Pakistan, which was eventually moved from Dharamsala to Kolkata, has not given his nod to Kings XI yet. One of the franchise officials even hinted that Thakur might allow Mumbai to play in Dharamsala while asking Kings XI to play in Mohali.
However, even Mohali is in doubt since the Punjab Cricket Association is not too keen on hosting extra matches, according to a BCCI official. According to him, it was decided that Mohali's last IPL match would be on April 25, after which the venue would host an Under-19 zonal camp for six weeks. That camp is already underway, having begun on April 24. In addition, a three-day Under-16 match began this morning in Mohali.