Indian elections force late IPL switch to UAE for Pietersen
A month before the first ball is bowled and the schedule for T20 cricket tournament remains unclear
FANS hoping to watch the cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this time next year already know when and where their teams will be playing, and tickets have already gone on sale.
But things operate a little differently in India, and with a month to go before the start of this year's IPL tournament it is still unclear where and when many of the matches will take place.
Indian cricket's governing body, the BCCI, has announced that the first round of 16 matches to be played between 16 and 30 April will now be held in the UAE, at Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The venues for the second block of matches, played between 1 and 12 May, are also undecided and they could end up being staged in Bangladesh. The third and final round, however, will definitely be held in India, although the final has now been pushed back to 1 June.
The reason for the last minute alterations to the schedule is elections in India, which coincide with the cricketing jamboree, featuring players like Kevin Pietersen.
Fears over safety and crowd control have prompted the switch, explains The Guardian. "The general election for India's Lok Sabha is due to be held in nine phases from 7 April to 12 May, and the existing government said that they would not be able to provide sufficient security for IPL games during that period."
Confirmation of the UAE switch "ended weeks of speculation about where parts of the seventh season of the world's richest cricket league will be played", reports UAE-based paper The National.
But the move is not without consequence. "If more than half of the IPL matches are moved to an overseas location, it would mean a loss of 40-50 per cent in revenues for IPL teams as a considerable chunk of their revenues come from ticket sales on their home grounds," says Indian paper, the Economic Times. "Even sponsorship and merchandising opportunities will get impacted due to the move."
Government revenues will also be affected, adds the paper, while the BCCI will have to "work out the details of a compensation package" for teams.
"It is the second time in seven seasons that the IPL has been forced to find alternative locations because of a clash with elections. In 2009 the whole tournament was played in South Africa, which Pietersen may well have preferred," notes the Guardian.
Pietersen is the only Englishman on show at the seventh edition of the Twenty20 bash, but if his Delhi Daredevils team get to the final it will delay his return to England, where he is due to be the main attraction for Surrey this summer.