The Indian Premier League (IPL), world cricket’s most valuable tournament, returns home from 26 March, but its league phase will be restricted to two cities due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports said on Thursday.
Mumbai and Pune will host the 15th edition of the lucrative Twenty20 tournament that began in India last year but midway moved out to the United Arab Emirates.
“The IPL will kick off on March 26,” IPL chairperson Brijesh Patel was quoted as saying by the Indian media after a governing council meeting on Thursday.
“We will also have crowds but as per the policy of the Maharashtra (western state of India) government.”
Ten teams, including two news franchises in Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans, will feature in 70 league matches across four venues with the league set to conclude on 29 May.
A limited number of seats will be available at the venues and IPL officials will then assess whether crowd limits can be increased towards the business end of the tournament.
Venues for the IPL to be decided at a later date
The venues for the playoffs will also be decided later while a full schedule of the matches is expected to be made available in early March.
Rising Indian star Ishan Kishan fetched $2 million in the auction when five-time champions Mumbai Indians bought back the wicketkeeper-batsman.
England’s Liam Livingstone was the most expensive foreign player at $1.52 million as the attacking batsman went to Punjab Kings.
Chennai Super Kings, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, were crowned champions for the fourth time last year in Dubai after they beat Kolkata Knight Riders in the final.
The IPL 2020 was also held in the UAE due to the pandemic.
The league is a huge revenue earner for the wealthy Board of Control for Cricket in India and estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse