Dubai: A significant milestone will be added to the UAE’s reputation as a major cricketing venue when it hosts the first 16 matches of Indian Premier League (IPL) VII from April 16 to 30.
Gulf News was the first newspaper in the region to report on January 28 that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was eyeing the UAE as an overseas venue along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News soon after Wednesday’s BCCI announcement that the UAE will host the first 16 matches of this year’s IPL, board president N. Srinivasan said: “It is a huge opportunity for the UAE and I’m sure they can put up a good show and make it a huge success.”
However, he chose not to elaborate on the decision to host the event in three phases in three countries — UAE, Bangladesh and India: “It is a unanimous decision that the BCCI has taken and that’s all I can say.”
For the period from May 1-12, the BCCI has approached the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, seeking permission to play IPL matches in India in cities where the polling would have concluded.
“BCCI is extremely conscious of the various complexities involved, but hopes for a favourable consideration. The BCCI will abide by the decision of the authorities in this regard,” read a statement issued a Wednesday.
“If it is not possible to play in India during this period, IPL matches will be held in Bangladesh and the BCCI is thankful to the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government of Bangladesh for their support.”
The BCCI thanked Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and the Chairman of Emirates Cricket Board, and the Government of the UAE for their wholehearted support and offer to host the IPL in view of the general elections in India.
Speaking to Gulf News, T.C Mathew, the IPL Governing Council member and chairman of the BCCI’s National Cricket Academy, said: “The UAE was selected to host the matches due to the presence of a large Indian population and so we expect the response for our matches to be excellent. In fact, Bangladesh was also under consideration but the fan factor as well as the cheap travel expenses made us opt for UAE.”
Mathew also revealed that the time zone went in favour of the UAE compared to South Africa, which was also considered as a possible venue.
“The time difference with India and UAE is just one-and-a-half hours and it will be very beneficial for our viewers in India. We were also very impressed with the venues in UAE, especially the Dubai and Abu Dhabi stadiums, which are top-class, and Sharjah Stadium, which looks excellent after undergoing renovation,” he said.
The Dubai-based International Cricket Council (ICC) lauded the BCCI’s decision to host the IPL in their backyard, with Chief Executive David Richardson saying in a statement: “The BCCI’s decision to stage the first part of the IPL 2014 season in the UAE is great news for the people of the UAE and the region.
“It will complete a remarkable season of cricket in the UAE, which has already seen the successful staging of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2013 and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014.”