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IPL to opt for UAE or Bangladesh

Dubai: The UAE and Bangladesh have emerged as the only two contenders to host some of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches during India’s general elections after strong favourites South Africa has been ruled out of contention.

Ranjib Biswal, the IPL chairman, told the media in New Delhi that South Africa, who were favoured to be the alternate venue is not being considered as they wanted to host the entire edition of the seventh edition of the IPL and not just some matches.

Biswal was speaking soon after holding a meeting with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President N. Srinivasan, Vice-President Rajeev Shukla, Secretary Sanjay Patel and IPL CEO Sundar Rajan after India’s general election dates were announced on Wednesday.

Following the announcement of the general election dates, Biswal said that 60 to 70 per cent of the matches will be held in India just after the elections. The window for the IPL is from April 9 to June 3 and the Indian Parliament elections are being held from April 7 to May 12 with the results on May 16.

UAE have expressed their readiness to act as the alternate venue along with Bangladesh. “Today, we discussed about foreign venues, but we haven’t decided yet as we need couple of days more to finalise the offshore venue,” said Biswal.

Many franchises owners have expressed their preference for the UAE venues as cost-wise, travelling between the venues for the teams will be cheap as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah can be reached by road travel.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has given many attractive offers to the BCCI in case they opt to stage the IPL matches there. The Bangladesh Cricket Board is understood to be even ready to offer their grounds free of charge. The BCCI apparently are not sure whether fans will turn out in large numbers in the UAE, during working days unlike in Bangladesh. Hotels in Bangladesh are also cheaper than in UAE.

With majority of the matches to be played in India after May 16 when the election process is completed, some of the teams have expressed their keenness to play the early matches in conditions, which are similar to India. The BCCI is also examining whether cricket fans in Bangladesh will be ready to spend for IPL matches after spending money for Asia Cup and Twenty20 World Cup matches.

Though doubts over fans turning up on working days in the UAE are there, this country has a huge population of Indian expatriates and hence a huge turnout for high-profile and late night matches cannot be ruled out.