New Delhi: This year's Indian Premier League (IPL) was spared a logistical minefield when India's cricket board announced on Tuesday that the entire Twenty20 tournament will be held in the country from March 23.
Scheduling of the cash-rich IPL had become a challenge this year with India's general election due by May, also the month when the 50-overs World Cup gets underway in England.
The 2009 IPL was held in South Africa while part of the 2014 tournament was staged in the United Arab Emirates, both because of elections, and a similar prospect loomed large over this year's competition. The last time the IPL started in March was back in 2010. After that, the league has always kicked off in the first half of April and ended in late May.
The two-member CoA, comprising chairman Vinod Rai and former women's captain Diana Edulji, met here Tuesday to discuss the venues and window for the league.
"Based on preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state agencies/authorities, it was decided that the 12th edition of the world's most popular and competitive T20 tournament will be ... played in India," the BCCI said in a statement.
"The detailed schedule will be finalised in consultation with the appropriate authorities."
"We will have all the primary venues backed up by alternate venues in case there is a need to shift matches. This will be done in consultation with central and state government authorities as well as security agencies," Rai told PTI.
"The specific reason for having a back-up venue is to ensure that we don't have any issue if there is polling or recounting or PM's rally in any of the states once the election dates are announced," he added.
Rai said the specific venues and match dates will worked out later after due consultation with government agencies.
"Once we chalk out the itinerary, we will get the dates and venues cleared by various govt agencies," he said.
Tuesday's decision ended months of speculation about the league's venue this year given the possibility of a clash of dates with the Lok Sabha elections, the schedule of which is not yet out.
It is learnt that the cash-rich tournament has been kept in the country keeping in view the fact that the elections will be held in phases and it wouldn't be too much of a logistical issue to schedule the games accordingly.
As per the new BCCI constitution, there has to be a 15-day gap between the end of the IPL and India's international engagements.
Australians Steve Smith and David Warner will return to the IPL after missing last year's tournament following a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
They are serving year-long bans for their part in the Cape Town incident in March and were barred from the 2018 IPL.
The Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad paid $1.67 million each at last year's IPL auction for the services of Smith and Warner.
The eight-team league with owners including India's richest man Mukesh Ambani and Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta has attracted top players from leading cricketing nations.
Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are the most successful IPL teams having won the title three times each.