IPL 2021 postponed indefinitely: All you need to know
In a major blow, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been postponed indefinitely after several players tested positive for COVID-19. The IPL Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have unanimously decided to postpone the season, with immediate effect. The postponement comes hours after Wriddhiman Saha and Amit Mishra tested COVID-19 positive. Here is how the entire episode folded.
On Monday, the IPL called-off the game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore as the KKR camp reported a couple of cases. Notably, Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier contracted the deadly virus. Two members of the Chennai Super Kings contingent, bowling coach L Balaji and a bus cleaner, also tested positive for COVID-19. This resulted in a week-long quarantine for several teams.
UPDATE: The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season with immediate effect.— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) May 4, 2021
Details - https://t.co/OgYXPj9FQy pic.twitter.com/lYmjBId8gL
Days before the start of 14th IPL edition, several COVID-19 positive cases were registered within the bio-bubble. RCB's Devdutt Padikkal, Delhi Capitals' Axar Patel, and KKR's Nitish Rana returned positive tests. Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians scout and wicket-keeping consultant Kiran More also tested positive for COVID-19. However, all the players and support staff tested negative as the tournament started, and progressed.
The IPL schedule was released in March, with six cities staging matches between April 9 and May 30. While the first leg was safely conducted in Mumbai and Chennai, the second leg (ongoing till the postponement news) was in Ahmedabad and Delhi. Meanwhile, Bengaluru and Kolkata were due to host the third leg, with the playoffs scheduled for Ahmedabad.
The Mumbai Cricket Association refrained from shifting the games out of Mumbai despite the COVID-19 crisis. Sourav Ganguly confirmed that the "IPL will go on as scheduled" even though the Maharashtra government announced a weekend lockdown. Reportedly, some groundsmen at Wankhede had also tested positive.
The COVID-19 cases in India continued to proliferate as the IPL 2021 reached its midway point. The nation started recording more than 3 lakh daily COVID-19 cases. This prompted several countries to ban travelers from India. The Australian government even imposed a ban on its own citizens returning from India until May 15, stating that doing so would be deemed a criminal offence.
England's Liam Livingstone and Australia's Andrew Tye were the first ones to leave the IPL bio-bubble and return home. Meanwhile, Australian duo Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson managed to depart before the clampdown. Indian spinner R Ashwin also took a break to attend to his family amid the pandemic. Umpire Nitin Menon too left after his family members tested positive.
Considering the concerns of players over the COVID-19 situation, the BCCI re-assured all the eight teams that the IPL bubble was "totally safe". BCCI's interim Chief Executive Officer Hemang Amin told the players they were playing the 2021 IPL not just to win, but for something "much more important, humanity". He added that the bio-bubbles will be strengthened, announcing various restrictions.
None of the protocols worked as the virus breached the teams' bio-secure bubbles. After the players and officials from KKR and CSK tested positive, the BCCI planned to shift back the tournament to Mumbai. However, the virus entered into two other franchise bubbles as Saha and Mishra tested positive. This infused further panic among the players and their families.
In 2020, the BCCI successfully conducted entire IPL season in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, the tournament can't be shifted this time due to the travel ban. There is no possibility of resuming the IPL in the next few months, given the current scenario. Instead, the threat of cancelation also hovers over India's international cricket assignments, including the ICC T20 World Cup 2021.