IPL 2019 likely to start early to give India break before World Cup
CoA receptive to team management's request for rest, but reportedly unhappy with overseas Test results and Shastri's comments
The IPL could be advanced by a couple of weeks and is likely to start on March 23 to accommodate the Indian team management's request to allow their fast bowlers adequate rest before the World Cup starts on May 30.
India captain and coach Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are believed to have laid out the need for at least a two-week rest period for their fast bowlers during meetings last month with the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and the board's senior management team. They are also believed to have asked whether key players, including senior fast bowlers, could be rested from the IPL and adequately compensated if so.
These meetings, held in New Delhi and Hyderabad, were also attended by Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, vice-captains of the ODI and Test sides respectively, and selection committee chairman MSK Prasad.
The IPL management, headed by chief operating officer Hemang Amin, is understood to have told the CoA that the Indian team management's request would need the consent of the franchises, which could be hard to come by. In turn, this may have forced the BCCI into considering an early start.
During these meetings, ESPNcricinfo understands that the two-member CoA, comprising Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji, also made it clear to Kohli and Shastri that while India remain the No. 1 Test side, they have been "found wanting" in South Africa and England.
The CoA is understood to be displeased about some of the grievances put forth by the team management pertaining to inadequate facilities at the team hotel and players' partners not travelling with the side. The CoA also apparently didn't take too kindly Shastri's comments about India being the best travelling team. The CoA is understood to have told Shastri that even if India is one of the best teams going around, people should be allowed to judge for themselves.
The BCCI is also exploring the feasibility of hosting IPL 2019 in India, but can only take a final call on this once the dates of the country's seven-phase general elections are announced by the Central Election Commission. A team has already carried out a recce in South Africa, should the IPL need a plan B. It is likely that a clearer picture will emerge ahead of the player auction in Jaipur on December 18.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo