After more than 4 months, the Indian Premier League finally returns this September. The tournament was suspended indefinitely on May 4th when many players began testing positive for Covid-19, and matches had to be postponed to a later date.
This was during a time when the Covid-19 situation in India was at its infamous peak, with around a million cases in the country every 3 days. Players started to withdraw from the tournament due to safety concerns.
On May 3rd, the Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore match had to be postponed after several players from Team KKR tested positive for the disease. The next day, the Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals match was also postponed, and the decision was made to suspend the season until further notice.
The problem was that only about half of the scheduled matches had been played, with the second half of the tournament now set to begin 4 months after the first one. The BCCI announced that the second half of the season would be played in the United Arab Emirates like the entire 2020 season.
Delhi Capitals stand at the top of the table with 12 points, and 2 more wins will almost guarantee them a spot in the playoffs, the third consecutive year they make it into the top 4. Chennai Super Kings stand strong at second place with 10 points and an impressive net run rate of +1.253, followed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore who also have 10 points. Mumbai Indians is currently 4th with 8 points.
But after 4 whole months, and taking place in an entirely new country, what effect will this have on the players who will be a part of this season? Firstly, cricket has now got back on track, with nearly every country busy playing in a series. With the risk of the disease now low, the availability of players will not be a problem unlike last time in April where notable players like Axar Patel had to miss out on a few matches after testing positive for Covid-19 during the dangerous wave that took place last time.
The IPL will immediately be followed by the ICC World T-20 which will also be played in UAE. Hence those representing their countries will be able to practice and gain the experience of playing on the UAE fields in the IPL, which will provide them with an advantage while playing for their country. With very little time to prepare for the World T-20 following the IPL, players will have to use the opportunity of playing in the IPL to the fullest as it will benefit them and the country that they will represent. Hence, we can expect the best out of all the players.
Although there are several grounds to choose from in India, in the time of Covid-19, the facilities provided by the UAE grounds are comparatively better than that of India. Hence it will not be much of an inconvenience for the players now as compared to the last time that the IPL was going on.
The UAE grounds are comparatively batsmen-friendly as compared to the Indian grounds, and hence we can expect many high-scoring matches like we did in the 2020 edition of the IPL. The bowlers will have to take up the responsibility of proving this statement wrong.
There is only so much we can predict, as cricket is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world with endless possibilities and outcomes, and after all, that’s what makes this sport so great.