The Indian Premier League, the world’s biggest-money, highest-profile cricket tournament, was scheduled to open its 13th season on March 29. But due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic that has shut down businesses and live sports events around the world, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) postponed the IPL’s opening day until April 15. That date, however, now appears highly unrealistic, falling just one day after the scheduled end of India‘s 21-day lockdown.
Now, according to a report by The Times of India, the 2020 IPL competition may be looking at a start date sometime in October.
Even if the coronavirus pandemic has somehow been sufficiently contained in India or around the world by October — thus allowing for large-scale sporting events to take place — the IPL would face another obstacle to holding an October-November tournament. The seventh ICC T20 World Cup tournament would need to be postponed.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Australia from October 18 to November 15. Postponement of that competition remains a possibility because Australia has imposed a travel restriction that prohibits non-Australian nationals from entering the country in order to stem the coronavirus outbreak. There is currently no end date for those restrictions, meaning that if they remain in place, teams from the other 15 competing countries in the T20 World Cup would be barred from entering Australia.
“If the ICC does go ahead and decides to postpone the T20 World Cup due to the current scenario, only then we can look at the October-November window,” a BCCI official told The Times of India, adding that even for an October date for the 2020 IPL, the virus’ spread “needs to be stopped.”
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country of 1.3 billion people placed completely under a shutdown starting on March 24 and lasting until April 14 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, per a report from Science.
India has confirmed only 2,543 cases of the viral infection as of Thursday, with 72 deaths, according to the population data site Worldometers. But according to Science, projections for the country see a potential total of between 300 million and 500 million Indian citizens becoming infected with the disease.
The current worldwide rate of death from coronavirus infection stands at 5 percent, according to the Worldometers stats. Using that percentage, the projections for India would see as many as 25 million fatalities — a bleak outcome that Modi’s lockdown order is intended to prevent.
If the IPL were able to take place in October, the T20 World Cup would need to be rescheduled for 2022, as noted by The Times of India. This is because no “window” exists on the international cricket schedule to play the competition in 2021.