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AFP
March 8, 2021

IPL returns to India with no crowds initially

Sports

AFP
March 8, 2021

NEW DELHI: The popular Indian Premier League will begin on April 9, the country’s cricket board said Sunday, with organizers set to eschew crowds initially as coronavirus cases rise in India.

The world’s richest Twenty20 tournament was held in the United Arab Emirates in 2020, but its 14th edition this year will be played across six Indian venues.

“The IPL this year at home will be played behind closed doors to begin with and a call on allowing spectators will be taken at a later stage of the tournament,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

The Narendra Modi stadium—the world’s biggest cricket venue that recently hosted England—in Ahmedabad will host the playoffs as well as the final on May 30.

The eight teams will play all their matches at neutral venues. Out of the 56 league matches, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore will host 10 matches each, while Ahmedabad and Delhi will share eight games each.

“The BCCI is confident of hosting the IPL at home with health and safety of players and all people involved being paramount,” Shah said.

The league will kick off in Chennai with a clash between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Chinese phone maker Vivo will return as the IPL’s lead sponsor after the deal was suspended last year following a deadly border clash between India and China.