IPL governing body is ready to shift matches from Maharashtra

Sudipta / 10 April 2016

Indian Premier League’s governing body is ready with a plan to move nearly half of its 20 games out of Maharashtra due to political, legal and social pressure over wastage of water in watering cricket grounds when the state is facing one its droughts in recent memory.

While top IPL officials were in a huddle at Cricket Centre, the Board of Control for Cricket’s (BCCI) headquarters o Marine Drive on Saturday, sources as per Mumbai Mirror reported that frenetic activity is underway across at least five states to accommodate Maharashtra games.

The final call will be taken on Tuesday depending on the Bombay High Court, which is hearing a PIL demanding that no IPL games be played in the state, takes. As per an estimation, 40 lakh litres of water will be used for the seven games at Wankhede stadium. It has, however, claimed that all of it will nonpotable.

According to a source, a contingency plan is in place to move Kings XI Punjab’s three games back to Mohali from Nagpur, and shift newbies Gujarat Lions’s two games that were scheduled to be played in Kanpur to Rajkot. The Gujarat Lions’ move back to Rajkot will free up the Green Park stadium to host some of the games scheduled to played in Pune and Mumbai.

Maharashtra faces its worst water crisis in two decades. While the situation is so bad in the  hinterland  that a special train carrying water will soon leave Latur and Nashik’s holy Ram Kund was on Friday filled with water brought in tankers, Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region also is reeling from an acute shortage of drinking water.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has already gone on record that he would not mind all IPL matches moving out of the state.

An informal discussion has been taking place among top BCCI officials at various levels. Even during the opening ceremony in Mumbai on Friday, the issue uppermost on everybody’s mind was the next hearing before the HC. IMG, which oversees the operational issues of the league for the board, has been constant touch with top officials.

Apart from asking King XI Punjab to play all its home games at Mohali and restricting Gujarat Lions home outings to Rajkot, the board has also sounded out Indore and Ranchi as prospective venues. The Barabati Stadium in Cuttack is also an option, but Odisha Cricket Association officials on Saturday maintained that they had not recived any message from the BCCI.

Of the reaming 19 games to be played in the state, seven- including the final- are slated to be played at bthe Wankhede and nine- including two playoffs in Pune. Three games are scheduled to be played in Nagpur.

The priority for the BCCI are the home games of the three franchises involved. Relocating these games may lead to logistical a nightmare. The BCCI and franchise officials refused to comment on the plan.