The coronavirus pandemic has forced this year’s Indian Premier League T20 tournament to be suspended under further notice.
On Tuesday, India’s lockdown to combat the pandemic was extended till May 3, leaving little scope for the league to take place during its designated window.
“Due to the evolving global health concerns regarding Covid-19 and lockdown measures implemented by the Government of India to contain the spread of the pandemic, the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 Season will be suspended till further notice,” the board confirmed in a statement.
Here’s a look at five major moments in the star-studded IPL since the league began in 2008.
A brainchild of sports administrator Lalit Modi, the IPL opened with great fanfare in 2008. Bollywood songs, fireworks and the presence of celebrity owners including actor Shah Rukh Khan added to the glitz. BCCI described it as a “historic day” for international cricket. New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum lit up the IPL’s opening match with a scintillating 158 off 73 balls – an innings that set the tone for the league to become one of the most entertaining cricket competitions.
South African sojourn
The dates of second edition coincided with India’s parliamentary elections, forcing the tournament to be moved to South Africa. The rainbow nation pulled out all stops to host the popular league after pipping England as contenders. It was reported the IPL infused $100 million into the South African economy. Proteas great AB de Villiers had an excellent run with the bat and said the switch of venues was “good news” for him. The United Arab Emirates hosted a part of IPL in 2014 when once again the elections came in way of the opening half of the tournament that April.
In a fix
As much as the entertainment it has generated, controversies have been a feature of the world’s richest cricket competition, which was rocked by spot-fixing in 2013 when police launched legal proceedings against several officials and three Rajasthan Royals players. Royals co-owner Raj Kundra and Gurunath Meiyappan, of the Chennai franchise, were banned for life from cricket-related activities. The Royals and Chennai Super Kings, led by MS Dhoni, were suspended for two years in 2015. Earlier, in 2010, former IPL chairman Modi was slapped with corruption charges and removed from his post. Three years later, Modi, who took refuge in Britain and refused to return home, was banned for life by the BCCI for “indiscipline and misconduct”.
The IPL, known for its lucrative contracts for players, is a huge revenue earner for the BCCI and is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy. In 2015, the IPL was boosted by a $330 million deal with Chinese mobile phone-maker Vivo which became the league’s top sponsor for 2018-2022. And in 2017, Star India paid about $2.5 billion for five years of broadcast rights, the biggest TV deal seen in cricket. “We are not able to figure out where it will peak... but I think after the English Premier League (football), this is the most important league,” former chairman Rajeev Shukla told AFP.
Coronavirus has brought the sports world to a grinding halt and IPL is no different. The league, which was scheduled to start on March 29, has been postponed indefinitely after the government extended the nationwide lockdown until at least May 3. Pressure has been mounting from foreign stars for the league to be played possibly later this year and even behind closed doors. But with India still grappling with the virus, there are doubts over whether the season will take place at all.
BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly had said things look bleak.
“And what is there to say anyway? Airports are shut, people are stuck at home, offices are locked down, nobody can go anywhere. And it seems this is how it’s going to be till the middle of May,” he had said.
“Where will you get players from, where do players travel? It’s just simple common sense that at the moment, nothing is in favour of any kind of sport anywhere in the world, forget IPL,” he said.
(With AFP inputs)
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