United Arab Emirates now poised to stage postponed Indian Premier League at the end of 2021 – as England players secure last ditch flights out of Covid-hit Delhi
- The UAE is on standby to stage the recently postponed Indian Premier League
- Options are being discussed for concluding the lucrative Twenty20 competition
- Majority of the England contingent left at the IPL were hastily arranging their journeys home on Tuesday
- Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy were among those to have secured international flights from Delhi
The postponed Indian Premier League could resume in the United Arab Emirates later this year.
Within hours of the plug being pulled on the lucrative Twenty20 competition due to an escalation in Covid-19 cases inside the tournament’s biosecure bubble, talk turned to where the remaining matches would be slotted into a crammed 2021 calendar.
As England’s 11 remaining IPL players scrambled to return home on flights into London, whispers emerged of the competition being completed in the UK immediately after India’s tour here this summer. However, the UAE is a much likelier destination if it is to leave India for safety reasons.
The postponed IPL could resume in the United Arab Emirates later this year.
As Sportsmail revealed last month, the Emirates is the standby venue for the 16-country Twenty20 World Cup in October-November should the ICC decide India is unsatisfactory.
And the value of completing the IPL in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah from late September onwards would be that the world’s best T20 players would be in position and match-ready for the global event.
Unlike India — which recently revealed nine host cities for the T20 World Cup — playing in the UAE would eliminate air travel between matches, thus reducing the risk of Covid being contracted from outside team environments.
However, such a solution would not be without its headaches for the ECB, who promised the BCCI their centrally-contracted players would feature for the full IPL this year.
Jonny Bairstow was among a number of stars to have secured international flights from Delhi
From mid-September, England are due to warm up for their attempts to become double white-ball world champions with short tours to Bangladesh and Pakistan. England’s leading short-form cricketers can’t be in two places at once, so something will have to give.
The majority of the England contingent left at the IPL were hastily arranging their journeys home on Tuesday, with the first expected to touch down at Heathrow at 7.30am on Wednesday.
World Cup winners Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy were among those to have secured international flights from Delhi, which was scheduled to host Sunrisers Hyderabad’s match versus Chennai on Tuesday prior to the tournament being scrapped in the wake of multiple positive coronavirus cases across the eight franchises.
League bosses confirmed outbreaks at three of them but there were rumours of others when Brijesh Patel, the IPL chairman, announced the ‘unanimous’ decision.
Chennai’s players were told on Monday to isolate for five days in their hotel rooms after their bowling coach Lakshmipathy Balaji plus one of the Super Kings’ staff became infected within the biosecure bubble.
There are also concerns over the Twenty20 World Cup with growing Covid-19 cases in India
However, Sam Curran and Moeen Ali were given permission to travel hours later, while Delhi trio Sam Billings, Chris Woakes and Tom Curran were in transit from Ahmedabad to Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon for their international flights.
Passengers are permitted to board British-bound planes after returning a negative PCR test but then must head into quarantine for 10 days upon arrival at a government-appointed hotel due to India’s place on the UK’s ‘red list’ of Covid countries. There are no exemptions for elite sports people.
Last weekend, India became the first country to record more than 400,000 new cases in a single day and registered its highest daily death toll at 3,689. But it was not until the breach of the IPL bubbles of Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad that definitive action was taken.
‘The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL,’ said a statement.
Jofra Archer, who missed the IPL after surgery on his hand for a cut sustained while emptying his fish tank, made his return for Sussex 2nds on Tuesday.
The England man (left) smashed three fours and two sixes as he raced to 35 off 46 balls in only 45 minutes against Surrey 2nds at Hove.
Archer is likely to test his sore elbow by bowling on Wednesday.
Additional reporting: Daniel Matthews