The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL), which was scheduled to begin at the end of March, will start on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the final is scheduled for November 8, IPL Chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed on Friday. While the event's Governing Council will meet next week to chalk out the final details and approve the schedule, it is understood that the BCCI has informally intimated the franchises about the plan.
"The GC will meet shortly but we have finalised the schedule. It will run from September 19 to November 8. We expect the government approval to come through. It is a full 51-day IPL," Patel confirmed the development after PTI reported the dates on Thursday.
The IPL has been made possible by the ICC's decision to postpone the October-November T20 World Cup in Australia owing to the COVID-19 pandemic due to which the host country expressed its inability to conduct the event.
Patel said that the Standard Operating Procedure to combat the COVID-19 threat is being prepared and the BCCI will formally write to the Emirates Cricket Board.
"We are making the SOP and it will be ready in a few days. To allow crowd or not depends on the UAE government. Anyway social distancing has to be maintained. We have left it for their government to decide on that. Will also be writing to the UAE board formally," Patel said.
There are three grounds available in the UAE -- Dubai International Stadium, Sheikh Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi) and the Sharjah ground.
It is learnt that the BCCI will be renting the grounds of the ICC Academy for training of the teams.
The ICC Academy has two full-sized cricket grounds along with 38 turf pitches, 6 indoor pitches, a 5700 square foot outdoor conditioning area along with physiotherapy and medicine centre.
As per the current health protocol in Dubai, there is no need to be in quarantine if people are carrying a negative COVID-19 test report, but if they are not, they will have to undergo a test.
While there was speculation that the IPL will start from September 26, the BCCI decided to advance it by a week in order to ensure that the Indian team's tour of Australia is not jeopardised.
"The Indian team will have a mandatory quarantine of 14 days as per the Australian government rules. A delay would have sent the plans haywire," a BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.
"The best part is that 51 days is not at all a curtailed period and broadcasters will be happy with full seven-week window," he added.
While the original schedule had five double-headers, Patel said the new one will feature around 12 double-headers which means two matches each on both Saturdays and Sundays.
The Indians are set to play a four-match Test series against Australia starting December 3 in Brisbane after the IPL.
It is expected that with each and every team needing at least a month's time to train, the IPL franchises will be leaving base by August 20 which gives them exactly four weeks time to prepare.
The cash-rich event was originally scheduled to start at the end of March but the COVID-19 pandemic and the travel restrictions that were put in place to contain the virus, led to an indefinite postponement.
However, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had always maintained that the event will be held some time this year.