A hectic few months await the cricket calendar as organisers scramble to find a way of resuming the Indian Premier League season, which was suspended following a rise in coronavirus cases.
The 2021 IPL season was put on hold in early May after India recorded its highest daily death total since the pandemic began, per the BBC.
Almost one month later and the sport is no more certain as to when the league might resume, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India insisting the safety of its players is paramount:
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL.
”This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of all the stakeholders in mind. These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.
”The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”
The Delhi Capitals led the IPL standings when play was postponed earlier in May, having won six of their eight matches. The Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and five-time champions the Mumbai Indians made up the other three playoff places, in that order.
RCB star Harshal Patel led the league for wickets taken with 17 in seven matches, a surprise leader for the Purple Cap after Sportcrea.com previewed this year’s top bowlers ahead of the campaign kicking off.
Restructuring the cricket season around its biggest franchise competition is no easy feat. The inaugural ICC World Test Championship is scheduled to conclude in June, followed by a five-match Test series between India and England, as well as the ICC T20 World Cup set to start in October.
India are the clear 5/2 favourites to lift their second T20 World Cup crown when they host the tournament for a second straight edition later this year, and they’ll be eager to ensure nothing disrupts that momentum, reported by the British Gambler portal.
The Men in Blue clinched the inaugural World Cup title in 2007 but have failed to lift the trophy again since, with the West Indies coming out on top in two of the last three competitions.
It’s not just the host country whose preparations may be disrupted by the IPL’s resumption, however, with many of the league’s major stars imported from foreign countries.
The timing of the tournament’s return is a critical factor, and it’s possible we may not see the IPL get back underway until late November when the T20 World Cup has concluded.
As for where the contest will resume, India’s COVID-19 situation means the country may not be safe to host IPL matches when players are ready. The United Arab Emirates has been reported as a potential site to export fixtures, although England and Australia are among the alternative options, while Sri Lanka has volunteered its services also.
The cricket landscape for the remainder of 2021 looks uncertain as things stand, though the chaos that’s erupted as a result of the IPL delay could lead to rare returns for bettors.
With so many of the world’s top nations likely to see their stars affected by the change in scheduling, it’s possible we may see underdogs emerge in contention for the sport’s top prizes, while the IPL itself could be more open to surprise when (or if) it finally does restart.