The BCCI have reportedly zeroed in on Indore and Hyderabad as the two standby cities to host the group matches of the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League, following a worrying Covid surge in Mumbai. The news comes on the back of a handful of groundsmen in Wankhede catching the virus.
The BCCI have already begun devising contingency plans as reports have emerged that the board have finalized Hyderabad and Indore as two potential backups to host a chunk of group matches of the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League, should the Covid-19 situation in Mumbai worsen. The Covid situation in Maharashtra is currently a major concern, with the state reporting 47,827 new COVID-19 cases and 202 deaths on Friday, but cases within the tournament has seen the BCCI think about alternatives.
Earlier today, it was revealed that around 8-10 ground-staff at the Wankhede Stadium tested positive for Covid-19, post which, hours later, Delhi Capitals confirmed that one of their players, Axar Patel, had also caught the virus after arriving in Mumbai. The Wankhede, as things stand, is scheduled to host the first leg of the tournament, but, should the situation worsen, there could be a chance of the board relocating the games.
“We are keeping a close eye on each venue regarding Covid-19 cases, as of now no decision has been taken but Indore and Hyderabad are on standby. Will see what to be done, health and safety of players is of utmost importance," a BCCI source told ANI.
However, it also remains to be seen whether it will be practically possible to shift matches away from Mumbai in a short notice, given multiple franchises are both quarantining and practicing in the city currently. Mumbai is scheduled to host an IPL 2021 game in exactly a week’s time, and, according to a different source, it will simply not be feasible for the board to shift teams from one city to another, particularly with the tournament kicking off in just six days’ time.
"It's too late to move the matches from Mumbai now. The members of the organizing team have been in a separate bubble. The players are in a strict bubble. BCCI had Hyderabad as a backup but it is very difficult to move it in a week," another source told TOI.
The 2021 edition of the IPL has already had two confirmed Covid-19 cases among players. First, in late March, Kolkata Knight Riders’ Nitish Rana tested positive for the virus, and then, earlier today, Delhi Capitals’ Axar Patel caught the virus. While Rana has recovered and has returned a negative test result, Axar will have to undergo 10-days of isolation and clear two tests in order to be eligible to join his team’s secure bubble. In a separate case, meanwhile, a member of CSK’s content team also tested positive after landing in Mumbai.