T20I World Cup in October-November of 2021 is set to be shifted to the UAE and Oman with the BCCI having internally intimated the ICC to go ahead with its preparation due to a tricky Covid-19 situation in India.
While the UAE was always the first backup option, Oman’s capital Muscat has been added as the fourth venue, apart from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, for the marquee tournament that will start in the last week of October.
T20I World Cup Set To Move Out Of India: ICC Informed Internally
ICC had earlier reportedly put UAE as the venue for this year’s T20I World Cup on standby, seeing India witnessed an unprecedented Covid-19 surge. The T20I World Cup was supposed to happen last year in Australia but was postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak worldwide. The second wave of the virus, however, is causing utter chaos in India, with the country reporting over 3,50,000 cases on a daily basis.
“Yes, the BCCI, during the ICC board meeting, has formally asked for a four-week window to take a final call but, internally, they have said that they would like to keep the hosting rights and wouldn’t mind the tournament being held in UAE and Oman,” a senior board official, privy to ICC board developments, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.
He said that Muscat has been zeroed in specifically for the preliminary rounds of the 16-team competition, which will also allow the three UAE grounds to get sufficient time to freshen up after 31 IPL games.
“If IPL finishes by October 10, then the UAE leg of World T20 can start off in November which would give three weeks’ time to the pitches to be spruced up for the global event. In the meanwhile, the first week can be held in Oman,” he said.
A majority of the ICC board members believe that India is trying to bide time as they take stock of the situation at a time when it is very difficult to predict how things pan out in October-November.
“If you think about it practically, India is now reporting around 120,000 plus cases which are close to one-third of what was being reported at the end of April and start of this month. But sitting on June 28, if you say “yes” to holding the World T20 in India, how can you predict the health situation in October if there is a third wave,” the seasoned official asked.
The second question is if the BCCI is wary of resuming the eight-team IPL in September in India, how can it hold a 16-team event in the country within a month’s time.
“Look, everyone including BCCI brass knows that monsoon is not a good enough reason and it is Covid-19, with almost 2500 crore revenue riding on the tournament.”
“In a 16-team event, if there is one team that gets affected in bubble with multiple cases, it won’t be like IPL. For weaker national teams, you won’t get ready replacements outside 14 or 15 men. There are teething issues,” an official of an associate nation, which is a part of the tournament, said.
India was confirmed as the host for ICC T20I World Cup 2021. On the other hand, Australia will host the marquee event in 2022. The T20I World Cup which was scheduled to be held in Australia from October 18, 2020, was postponed in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making way for the cash-rich IPL 2020 in the United Arab Emirates. The T20 World Cup in 2021 will be the seventh edition of the tournament and the first since 2016.
Overseas Players Would Be Happy To Play Remainder IPL 2021 And T20 World Cup In The UAE
Another question doing the rounds is how many overseas players would like to risk coming to India for the tournament if the situation doesn’t improve drastically.
“They would certainly come and play the IPL in the UAE and would be more than happy to play the T20 World Cup over there. But one can be rest assured that there would apprehensions with regards to health safety with players’ families and their boards and the local cricket association would give them an update on health threat perceptions. It would be easier said than done,” the official said.
While both ICC and BCCI mull over Muscat as their second venue for the T20I World Cup, Oman Cricket Association has expressed interest in hosting the event “if given an opportunity”. ICC has given BCCI time till June 28 on whether the event can be held in India or will have to be shifted to UAE.
There is a chance Oman may stage the T20I World Cup qualifiers if the tournament is moved to UAE. However, even if the tournament is shifted out of the country, India will retain the hosting rights.