The IPL 2021, which began in April, got truncated under a haze of uncertainty due to the second wave of Covid-19 in India. Now, the remaining part of the tournament, which has been shifted to UAE, will get underway from September 19 under a cloud of controversy, thanks to the same Covid-19 that refuses to die down.
The intense India and England Test series just came to a premature end as the scheduled fifth and final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled at the last moment as Covid-19 struck the Indian camp.
But a furore has been triggered with the allegation that the Test couldn't get going to accommodate the IPL's second phase. The charge is that the Indian team and the BCCI were more focused on making the IPL a success.
Whether there is merit in the criticism or not, the focus has quickly, and almost seamlessly, shifted to the UAE where the players who were doing duty in England immediately flew to and join the other players who are already camped there.
The remaining 31 matches of the IPL 2021, including the playoffs and finals, will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
The final is set for October 15 --- as it happens, jut two days before the scheduled start of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
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How the teams are placed?
Upon players reaching UAE, they have to spend a mandatory six-day quarantine before entering inside the bio-bubble meant for the league. A total of 14 bio-bubbles are to be be created, and the monitoring and enforcement is expected to be stringent considering what happened in India, and now in England.
A total of 13 matches, including the first qualifier and the final, will be played in Dubai. Sharjah will host 10 matches including the Eliminator and the second qualifier. The other matches will be played in Abu Dhabi. The first match of the UAE leg will be played between Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians.
When the IPL was halted in May, the table-toppers were the Delhi Capitals with 12 points in 8 matches. The CSK and the RCB were at the second and third positions with 10 points each in seven games.
Holders Mumbai Indians were fourth with four victories and three defeats. The bottom four were: Rajasthan Royals, Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad in that order.
Most of the teams have been hamstrung by pullouts by overseas cricketers (primarily from England and Australia), and this means many of teams have had to go for short-term replacements ahead of the next edition's mega auction.
Among the big names unavailable are Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Adam Zampa, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Finn Allen, Scott Kuggeleijn.
How to catch all the IPL action in India
The IPL telecast and streaming rights are with the Star Group. That of course means that the telecast will be on the various Star Sports channels in India and the Disney+ Hotstar app.
Star Sports 1/1 HD will have English commentary. You can also catch all the IPL action on Star Sports 1 Hindi/1 Hindi HD, Star Sports Kannada, Star Sports Tamil, Star Sports Telugu, and Star Sports Bangla.
The Disney+ Hotstar subscription rates have changed since the first leg of the IPL.
The Disney Plus Hotstar new plans start at Rs 499 instead of Rs 399 (VIP) and the all-access content plan remains the same at Rs 1,499.
Jio and Airtel offer special data plans that offer Hotstar subscription to watch the IPL 2021 live.
For those outside India, YuppTV has the digital broadcasting rights for IPL 2021 in close to 100 countries. IPL fans can watch matches on YuppTV in Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, South East Asia (except Singapore and Malaysia), Central and South America, Central Asia, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives.
The commentators for the Indian feed are (in English): Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Murali Kartik, Deep Dasgupta, Anjum Chopra, Ian Bishop, Alan Wilkins, Pmumelelo Mbangwa, Nicholas Knight, Danny Morrison, Simon Doull, Matthew Hayden and Kevin Pietersen.
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Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.