IPL considers ‘foreigner-less’ season
MUMBAI, India (CMC):
Windies’ Twenty20 (T20) stars could find themselves excluded from this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) if a plan by some stakeholders that would allow the lucrative tournament to come off in spite of the growing threat from the coronavirus pandemic goes forward.
The IPL was scheduled to start on March 29 but was delayed until April 15 following a March 14 meeting of the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI). However, India is currently under a 21-day nationwide lockdown, which ends on April 15, further putting in doubt the start of the tournament.
And with fears growing, the campaign may have to be cancelled altogether. Rajasthan Royals executive chairman Ranjit Barthakur says one of the options on the table was a scaled-down tournament without international stars.
“We look forward to playing the IPL this year, subject to the BCCI getting the requisite approvals,” Barthakur said.
“We are open to a relatively shorter version of the tournament, if needed, with just Indian players. We have always promoted Indian talent, and there is plenty of Indian talent now. So, if need be, we will consider that as a possibility.
“However, the final call needs to be taken by the BCCI. We need to wait and watch what they decide.”
Such a move would mean that superstars like Windies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard and veteran opener Chris Gayle would miss out on the tournament.
Pollard represents reigning champions Mumbai Indians, while Gayle, the most successful batsman in T20 history, turns out for Kings XI Punjab.
Left-handers Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer; all-rounders Andre Russell, Keemo Paul, Dwayne Bravo, and Fabian Allen; fast bowlers Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas; and off-spinner Sunil Narine all campaign in the IPL.
India has not been spared an impact from the COVID-19 virus, recording 2,500 cases and 72 deaths. The government moved for a nationwide shutdown to mitigate against any further spread last week.
Another franchise owner, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said he was not in favour of a scaled-down competition and preferred it to be cancelled instead.
“These are difficult times for sure, but we need to consider every aspect and then take a call accordingly,” he said.
“At this point of time, saving lives should be our priority. [This is] an extreme situation, and we need to take tough calls, if need be.”