World T20 venues could be curtailed: BCCI

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BCCI

New Delhi: The BCCI is confident that India will host the World T20 in October as per schedule despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country but the marquee ICC event could be held in five cities instead of originally nine short-listed venues.

As per convention, ICC keeps a back-up country ready and it’s been the UAE for the past one year. The IPL is currently on at different venues in separate bio-secure environments but BCCI will face perhaps its biggest test of managing a big-ticket ICC tournament in adverse circumstances.

“We are still hopeful that with five months left and significant population being vaccinated, we will be in a position to host World T20. Yes, one of the options could be curtailing the nine venues to a maximum four or five,” a senior BCCI office bearer said on Friday.

An ICC recce team was supposed to reach Delhi on April 26 to inspect the bio-secure arrangements for the IPL, keeping in mind the World T20 but the travel bans imposed on India led to the postponement of the trip. “Yes, the team was supposed to arrive earlier this week but with travel bans in place, they will come later once situation returns to normalcy,” the office bearer said.

An ICC spokesperson said that shifting the tournament to the UAE is not being considered at this stage. “We’re monitoring the situation. Too early at this stage to make a call. Team didn’t travel as UAE has shut its borders to India,” the ICC official said. BCCI’s GM (Game Development) Dhiraj Malhotra was on Friday quoted as saying by the BBC that “UAE is the backup venue”.

However an office bearer said that UAE was always the second option as per rules. “You always have a backup venue and UAE has been the venue after it was passed at ICC meeting last year. There’s nothing new in what Dhiraj had said. Obviously, if the situation remains same after five months, you will have to have Plan B ready,” the office bearer said.