The 2019 edition of the IPL will take place entirely in India, and will start on March 23, the BCCI said on Tuesday. The venue had been the subject of speculation given that the dates clash with the general elections, which are expected to take place in April-May. However, a BCCI release said the date and venue had been decided on by the Committee of Administrators after discussions with federal and state officials.
It is likely that the full IPL schedule will be out in early February. In addition to the home bases of the eight franchises, around four to six additional grounds have been shortlisted as back-up. Once the Election Commission of India announces the final dates for the polls, the IPL will consider if any of these venues would need changing.
Although the IPL has not announced the date for the final, it is likely to be between May 12 and 15. As per norm the defending champion gets the rights to host the tournament opener and the final. So Chennai will get both those key matches. More clarity on the situation is expected once the poll dates in the city are made public.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the information has been passed on to, and received by, the franchises.
In a press release the BCCI said that decision to conduct the tournament in India was “based on the preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state agencies / authorities”. A detailed schedule, the BCCI said, “will be finalised in consultation with the appropriate authorities”, after which the Committee of Administrators will have a “detailed discussion” with all the stakeholders.
In 2009 and 2014 – the last two seasons that clashed with general elections – the IPL had been moved to South Africa and the UAE (first half of the season) respectively. This time, too, the IPL had been proactive about keeping alternate plan in place. The first priority was always to keep the entire tournament in India but South Africa and the UAE were again shortlisted as alternate venues. Before the auction, held on December 18, the IPL briefed the franchises about the various plans it had chalked out in case the tournament had to be moved out of the country.
The biggest challenge for the franchises next season is that the IPL will end a couple of weeks before the World Cup begins on May 30 in England. As a result, the availability of overseas players towards the tail-end of the season is a bit unclear.