Johannesburg - South Africa could be in line to host the Indian Premier League (IPL), according to a report on Thursday, as India has just entered its third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Indian Express reports that The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) in India is considering alternative venues for the massive cricketing showpiece event, as Covid-19 numbers in the country begin to surge again. The IPL is scheduled to be held from April 2 to June 3.
India is just over two weeks into its third wave, since their active cases dropped down to 81 906 on December 27 that number has now skyrocketed to over 1.1m as of Wednesday. Last year, India began its second wave in March with 167 845 active cases and only reached the peak by May 8 which was over 3.7m cases.
In 2021, the IPL was suspended on May 4 with 31 of the scheduled games still to be played. The remaining matches were played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the final held on October 15.
“We can’t be dependent on UAE all the time so we decided to explore more options, South Africa’s time difference also works out well for the players,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
The Indian cricket team are currently playing South Africa in a three-Test series which began on Boxing Day in Centurion. The New Year’s Test was played at the Wanderers which began on January 3.
The third Test started in Cape Town on Tuesday. After the Test series, the teams will contest a three-match One-Day International series between January 19 and 23. The first two matches will be held in Paarl, with the final clash in Cape Town.
The current series, it seems may have provided first-hand information for the BCCI to assess South Africa’s ability to provide a bio-secure environment for touring cricket teams. Fans are also currently not allowed to attend the current series, despite South Africa being on the lowest lockdown restrictions level since the pandemic began.
The India cricket team stayed at the Irene Country Lodge for the first two Tests in Gauteng, which a BCCI official said was the ideal venue to house a cricket team in a bio-secure environment.
“The place where the team was staying for the second Test is spread over several acres. There were walking tracks and even a pond on the property and that has made things easier for the players who for the last couple of years or so have been confined to their rooms on several overseas tours,” said the BCCI official.