COVID downs IPL: League suspended after multiple cases

NEW DELHI, May 4: A barrage of COVID-19 cases forced the IPL’s indefinite suspension today, a move that was welcomed by the franchises even as the league’s jittery foreign recruits waited for BCCI’s plan of action to ensure their return amid some strict travel restrictions.
The decision to postpone the league was announced after SunRisers Hyderabad batsman Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi Capitals spinner Amit Mishra joined the infected players’ list, which already had Kolkata Knight Riders’ Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier.
Chennai Super Kings’ bowling coach L Balaji was among the prominent non-playing staff to test positive.
“The Indian Premier League Governing Council and BCCI in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” a statement from the IPL read after the development was confirmed by its chairman Brijesh Patel.
“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” it added.
The IPL said BCCI will do all it can to ensure that players in the event get back to their homes safely.
IPL features cricketers from England (11), Australia (14), South Africa (11) and New Zealand (10) among other countries. The event also featured nine West Indians, three Afghans and two players from Bangladesh. Several former foreign players, especially from Australia, were also a part of the support staffs and commentary teams.
“These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL stated.
“The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021.”
The cricket boards of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa backed the decision and expressed confidence in BCCI’s planning for their players’ safe return. But Australia made it clear that it won’t seek exemption from the travel ban which is in place till May 15 for flights from India.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions,” a joint release from CA and ACA stated.
The Board, apart from mulling the way forward, was also counting its losses, which could run into Rs 2200 crore, according to a senior official.
The 52-day 60-match tournament would have concluded in Ahmedabad on May 30. However, only 24 days of cricket was possible with 29 completed games before the virus halted proceedings.
“We would be losing anything between Rs 2000 to Rs 2500 crore for the midway postponement of this season. I would say something in the range of Rs 2200 crore will be closer to accurate estimation,” the BCCI official said. (PTI)