New Delhi: Confusion reigned over the fate of the world’s most popular Twenty20 (T20) league on Wednesday, a day after an attack against Sri Lankan cricketers in Pakistan and Indian home minister P. Chidambaram’s request to the organizers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to reschedule their upcoming tournament, so that it doesn’t clash with the general election.
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However, it still wasn’t clear whether foreign cricketers would be willing to travel to India and be part of IPL in the wake of the Lahore attack, which mimicked November’s terror attacks in Mumbai.
Listen to Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara and Pakistani journalist Maria Waqar on ramifications of the attack
Former England coach Duncan Fletcher has warned Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen that they risk becoming “sitting ducks” for terrorists if they play in the league.
Listen to Kumar Sangakkara and Maria Waqar
And New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram said he was having second thoughts about travelling to India.
Still, it is unlikely that any of the players will take a decision before the confusion over the schedule is sorted out, and before individual boards decide whether their players should travel to India. “We haven’t heard anything (related to concerns over security) from our players,” said Joy Bhattacharjya, director of Kolkata Knight Riders.
Apart from being a sporting spectacle, IPL is also a big business and the money involved this year could be at Rs1,000 crore, according to estimates put together by Mint.
The big question on Wednesday, however, revolved around whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the national body governing the sport, and IPL would agree to reschedule the tournament. “The IPL schedule was anyway tentative; so, based on (the) elections, the dates will probably be moved around,” said Amrit Mathur, chief operating officer, Delhi Daredevils. IPL is scheduled to begin on 10 April and end on 24 May; the first phase of polls is on 16 April and the last and fifth on 13 May.
IPL chairman, Lalit Modi
IPL chairman Lalit Modi stopped short of rescheduling the T20 tournament, but said he was open to making limited changes. “We will announce the new reworked schedule in the next 24 hours.”
Home secretary Madhukar Gupta reiterated his concern about holding the series in April and said he was waiting to hear from IPL’s organizers.
Within the marketing fraternity, however, opinions varied widely.
The government would not allow the league to coincide with the elections because the electoral backlash from a possible terror attack during a match would be sharp, said a media buyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
IPL will help boost the economy and will not be scrapped, although certain dates could be changed, said Prathap Suthan, national creative director, Cheil Communications.
Right now, though, there’s no clarity and the decision-making process is rapidly beginning to resemble a test match, not a T20.
Gouri Shah in Mumbai, Priyanka Mehra in New Delhi, and AFP and PTI contributed to this story.