Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
A day after the BCCI announced it would be hosting the 2021 men's T20 World Cup not in India but in the UAE and Oman, the ICC on Tuesday confirmed the venue shift. The ICC said that the tournament was being shifted "given the consequences of the second wave of Covid-19" in India. As reported last week by ESPNcricinfo, the 16-team World Cup will now be held between October 17 and November 14, and it will be co-hosted at the three venues in the UAE - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah - along with the Oman Cricket Academy in Muscat.
This will be the first T20 World Cup since 2016, when West Indies beat England in the final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
In April, the BCCI had shortlisted nine venues in India for the 16-team tournament with the world's largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad slotted to host the final on November 14. However, strong doubts on India hosting the marquee event emerged as soon as the BCCI was forced to suspend the IPL midway through, after the tournament bubble was breached and several players and support staff from four franchises were tested positive. The ICC had already nominated the UAE as the back-up venue for the T20 World Cup as early as last year, when it had allotted the tournament to India.
That the World Cup was certain to be moved to the UAE became clear when the BCCI top brass landed in Dubai in May to hold meetings with the Emirates Cricket Board as well as local government officials. Subsequently, the BCCI announced the second half of the IPL would also be held in the UAE. ESPNcricinfo has learned that the IPL will begin on September 19, with the final likely on October 14.
Although the World Cup will start three days later, the ICC has ensured that the pitches at the main grounds in the UAE, which will host the Super 12 stage, will get enough resting time between the two tournaments.
On Tuesday the ICC confirmed that Round 1 comprising eight teams, which will play 12 matches, will be split across two groups of four each. The two groups will be split between one of the venues in the UAE and Oman. Four team from this lot of eight - Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Namibia, Oman, Papua New Guinea - will then progress to the Super 12s, joining the top eight ranked T20I teams. The Super 12s phase, comprising 30 matches, is scheduled in the UAE and set to start from October 24. The Super 12s, where teams will be split across two groups of six each, will be played at three venues in the UAE - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. This will be followed by three playoff games - the two semi-finals and the final.
Geoff Allardice, ICC's acting CEO, said that the global body was "incredibly disappointed" that the World Cup would not be staged in India. "Our priority is to deliver the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 safely, in full and in its current window," Allardice said in a media release. "The decision gives us the certainty we need to stage the event in a country that is a proven international host of multi-team events in a bio-secure environment."
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said that, as the hosting board, it was looking to create a "spectacle". "We would have been happier hosting it in India but considering the uncertainty due to the Covid 19 situation and the importance of a world championship, the BCCI will now continue to host this tournament in UAE and Oman. The BCCI is looking forward to creating a spectacle."