IPL 2021

The IPL 2021 and the suspension that was inevitable

May. 26, 2021

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Ajai Kannan

With players from multiple franchises contracting COVID-19 at multiple bio-bubbles, the IPL 2021 was suspended indefinitely on May 04, 2021. The emergence of new strains that were potentially more lethal, the exponential rise in the daily number of cases, and the problems arising from the logistics side eventually proved too much for the bubble to safeguard athletes from the virus. The IPL 2021 was meant to provide quality sports entertainment to a country of a billion people, which was slowly but steadily recovering from the grasp of a deadly virus. Various corporates and startups had planned and laid out their marketing strategies in line with the IPL. Even us, at Roanuz Cricket API, had introduced a new affordable Cricket API seasonal plan for the IPL 2021, which provided exclusive access to the live scores, statistical data and Fantasy logic data for the tournament. Now, coming back to the tournament itself, retrospecting why the BCCI couldn’t replicate its success in securing the bio-bubble as it did last time, we run into several reasons. First of all, at the time of the beginning of the 13th edition of the tournament began in the UAE last year, the country was, on average, recording around 600–700 cases daily. On the other hand, India was recording a daily average of 100,000 infections, with all the six host cities serving as the hotspots of the infection. This number kept increasing exponentially, and by the time of the announcement of the suspension, the country was casually recording 350,000+ cases each day. New strains of the infecting virus were found, and the vast majority of the population was yet to be vaccinated. These developments meant that the bio-bubbles were now extremely vulnerable, and any breach of the Standard operating protocol was going to prove mighty costly. Finally, the long impending burst of the bio-bubble happened on May 3, 2021, when Varun Chakravarthy, the mysterious spinner of KKR, tested positive for the virus. It is said that Chakravarthy had left the bubble after having followed the necessary protocols to get a scan, and that is how he might have contracted the disease. Thus, the BCCI still insisted that the bubble was still safe and the IPL would continue as scheduled. However, things took an ugly turn when players from the CSK and the SRH contingent too tested positive. To this, the BCCI initially responded with the postponement of two games, but they were immediately followed by the announcement of an indefinite suspension. Another reason for the bursting of the bio-bubble can be attributed to the lack of reliance on technology on the side of the BCCI. In the UAE, the players and the management members are believed to have been under complete surveillance and data such as body temperature and oxygen levels are said to have been monitored continuously. This helped the BCCI and the health officials to pick up potential infections and screen the infected persons before they could spread to others. However, no such measures seem to have been followed in this year’s edition. Another matter of concern for the franchises was the amount of travel they had to make to switch between bubbles. In the UAE, there were just three venues, and the teams used to travel between them by road on their buses. This ensured that the team members did not come into contact with any person from outside the bubble. However, in the case of switching between Indian venues, the teams followed air travel owing to distance concerns. And because of this, there were many places where the members might have to meet or interact with people outside the bubble. Travel can very well be one of the ways how the players and members of the management could have contracted COVID-19. The BCCI has informed that it will explore opportunities to carry out the remainder of the tournament later this year at a safer venue, probably the UAE again. With the International calendar set to kick in with the finals of the WTC at the Lord’s in June, the time of the resuming of the IPL is currently uncertain. If the situation at home continues to remain adverse, the BCCI might also plan on shifting the ICC International T20 World Cup to the UAE.

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