This year's Indian Premier League may be played outside the country. The T20 tournament is set to clash with the general elections and the Board of Control for Cricket in India is likely to take most of the games to South Africa. Earlier, it was reported that Sri Lanka was an option for the eight-week championship in April-May.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel has indicated in Bangalore on Thursday that South Africa is the preferred venue. The Rainbow Nation had hosted the IPL's second edition in 2009. South Africa have also hosted the T20 Champions League. BCCI officials will meet Home ministry officials in the next 10 days and arrive at a decision.
"We are considering so many options. We are meeting the Home Ministry officials and the Home Minister (Sushil Kumar Shinde) to know the possible dates on which we can accommodate (the IPL) in India as far as possible. We are keen holding the matches in India. If not, South Africa is the preferred destination. But also the second and third options are open," IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal said in Bangalore. He, however, did not name the second and third options.
"What we are asking is, we have a window from April 9 to June 3. We will be speaking to the government officials in the Home Ministry. We want to hold maximum number of matches in India and if we get the green signal, probably we can hold all the matches in India," he said.
The IPL had been shifted to South Africa in 2009 as well because of similar security concerns posed by general elections. Lalit Modi was the IPL commissioner at that time.
"We are in constant touch with franchises; we have taken them into confidence in the last two days and we held a series of meetings with them. We have made our stand clear. They appreciated our concerns and they have given us cooperation on this matter," Biswal added.
"We are making efforts to meet the Home Ministry officials next week. After that, we will have the Governing Council meeting, where we will decide on the venue and dates. We are looking at another 10 days' time to sort out the issue," he added.
That South Africa could be a venue was hinted by Delhi Daredevils' chief coach Gary Kirsten on Thursday. The former South African opener, who was India's World Cup winning coach in 2011, said his team was buying pacers "because the tournament may be played in South Africa."
The likely shift of IPL matches to South Africa is also indication of improved relationship between BCCI and Cricket South Africa officials. Is this BCCI president N. Srinivasan's way of saying "thank you" to the South Africans for voting him in as ICC chairman? Interestingly, South Africa were the first to protest against the ICC revamp plans, calling the BCCI-pioneered draft proposals "fundamentally flawed."