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Update Kolkata, Ahmedabad among 5 centres shortlisted for IPL 2021

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 is likely to be held in India and Mumbai is not yet a confirmed venue. The talk among the franchises of the league on Friday (February 26) evening was that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has zeroed in on five venues for the tournament, scheduled to start around April 10.

Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi have been tentatively identified as host cities and Mumbai has been kept as an option pending talks with the Government of Maharashtra. The State Government's apprehensions to allow the IPL are presumably because of the second wave of the Coronavirus that has been felt across the country currently.

"Mumbai is still not final and it is because the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, headed by Uddhav Thackeray, has not yet given the final go-ahead," an IPL source in knowledge of the development has told Cricbuzz. Maharashtra has been the epicentre of the second wave of the pandemic, having recorded more than 8700 cases as of Thursday (February 25). Before the start of the second wave of the pandemic recently, the BCCI seriously explored the option of hosting the entire tournament in Mumbai itself.

Cricbuzz understands that the matches could take place in a cluster-caravan format, where the teams will be split into two groups and play several matches at the same venues in two different cities before getting re-shuffled and moving to two other venues.

There is a strong chance that Lucknow also could be in the mix as BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla has been lobbying hard for the IPL games in the Uttar Pradesh centre but it is not in the initial shortlist yet.

Identifying Kolkata appears to be a curious decision given that the Election Commission of India on Friday (February 26) announced eight-phase polling in West Bengal -- on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10, April 17, April 22, April 26 and April 29 - with counting on May 2. But a BCCI source said when the IPL could be pulled off without hitches during the 2019 General Election, the Assembly election should not be a big problem. Most likely, the BCCI will also allow crowds into the grounds, just as it has been doing for the on-going India-England series.


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