The wait is over, well almost, as the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League is all set to commence today. The world’s most popular T20 franchise tournament will kick-start with the opening fixture between five-time champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. The two sides will be led by start India batsman Rohit Sharma and India skipper Virat Kohli, respectively. So, what’s new about the IPL 2021? And, how is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the much-awaited cricket festival? Let’s have a look.
The cash-rich tournament is being played behind closed doors for the second time in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering many games were played beyond the permitted time in previous editions, strict guidelines have been issued to conclude an innings within 90 minutes, which also includes five minutes of strategic time-out. If a team fails to finish their 20 overs within the stipulated time, the game will be decided on the basis of the overs bowled within the permitted duration.
Another change will be seen in the form of the 3rd umpire keeping a watch on ‘short run’. A row transpired in the previous edition when a run by Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) batsman Chris Jordan was adjudged ‘short’ by the on-field umpire. The run, however, was legitimate. The mistake led to the franchise losing the game by a narrow margin. BCCI and IPL have also decided to scarp the on-field umpire’s soft signal. At IPL 2021, the on-field umpires won’t have to convey their own decision, or soft signal, to the 3rd umpire while escalating a decision.
Kings XI Punjab will step on the field with a new look as the franchise was renamed to Punjab Kings ahead of the grand tournament. Will the change in look bring a change in the fortunes of the franchise? We will witness pretty soon. Furthermore, young and flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant will be leading Delhi Capitals this season. The 23-year-old was handed the captaincy after regular skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury. Rajasthan Royals will also battle for the trophy with a new skipper, Sanju Samson.
The 14th season of the Indian Premier League will commence today, i.e. 9 April, and run till 30 May, when the grand finale will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. The league games, where will see each of the eight teams play 14 games, two against every other IPL franchise, will be played from 9 April to 23 May. The playoffs and the eliminator will take place from 25 to 28 May, with the grand finale slated for 30 May. All in all, IPL 2021 will bring us as many as 60 action-packed games of cricket to our doorstep.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near its end, BCCI had decided to hold IPL 2021 behind closed doors. Moreover, to reduce travel and curb the spread of COVID-19, the tournament will be held at just six venues, including Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, New Delhi, and Ahmedabad. There won’t be any home games for any of the eight franchises and both the playoffs, along with the eliminator and the final, will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahemdabad.
Everyone’s is going to miss the fun of watching an IPL game at the stadium. Fans travel from around the world to witness the biggest T20 cricket festival every year in India. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the authorities to conduct the tournament behind closed doors, fans will have to enjoy all the action on their television screens.
In the UAE, fans can watch the action unfold on BeIn Sports, while in India, the carnival will be available on Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar. For cricket fans in other countries, a live telecast of the Indian Premier League 2021 will be available on:
United Kingdom – Sky Sports Cricket
Australia – Fox Sports
MENA Countries – BeIN Sports
Pakistan – Geo Super
New Zealand – Sky Sport NZ
Bangladesh – Channel 9, Gazi TV
Afghanistan – Radio Television Afghanistan
Sri Lanka – SLRC
So, how excited are you for IPL 2021? We bet you’re just as pumped up as we are for the action to begin. For all the updates from around the world and the Indian Premier League over the course of the next two months, keep reading AlShorts.