The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was suspended on 4th May 2021. We all thought India will pull it off in the same way as BCCI did a few months back in UAE. However, we were wrong. We failed to pull it off. But were we getting to know the truth from the apex body of cricket in India all this while? Don't get shocked so early. You have just arrived at the place where you will know the reality behind what exactly happened and what led to postponement of the cash-rich league.
After 29 games, it was all put to rest. Interestingly, it has now been suspended for indefinite period. There is no clarity whether we will witness the tournament again this year. As per the press release issued by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the main reason behind postponement of the tournament was widespread coronavirus. With the country going through a challenging time, IPL was not just a source of entertainment but also livelihood for more than five hundred thousand people in India and across boundaries. There was a sense of joy at everyone's home around 7:30 IST in evening everyday even when the fear of getting affected from the virus was touching its peak.
On 3rd May 2021, at 11: 59 AM IST, an Australian journalist took to Twitter and revealed that Kolkata Knight Riders' players Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrior have been tested positive for coronavirus. Yes, you read that right. An Australian journalist told populous about an Indian event. It took less than 10 minutes for the news to become the biggest news of the day. All 8 franchises panicked as soon as they heard the news. Seeing the tension around the camps and in media, BCCI rescheduled the game between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders, which was scheduled to be played at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on 3rd May. The press release from the BCCI came at 1:01 PM, exactly 1 hour and 2 minutes later. Rescheduling the game meant - tension will rise and thoughts will be multiple. At this point, another news was hitting the headlines. A few overseas journalist wrote that one 'unknown' player from Royal Challengers Bangalore has also been tested positive. However, neither the franchise nor the board confirmed the news.
Till this point, the debate was only around why BCCI allowed Varun Chakravarthy to go for knee scans and if they did, why did Varun Chakravarthy didn't serve mandatory quarantine? In fact, the player joined the team and played game against Delhi Capitals on April 29 2021. The player came in 'close contact' of not only KKR squad but also the opposition players. The Delhi Capitals played their next game against Punjab Kings - which unfortunately also turned last game of the season. The question which remained unanswered here was - 'Why only KKR team was asked to go through a strict quarantine? Are we not considering 'close contact' now?'
Interestingly, on the same day a news from Delhi surprised everyone. Because till this point, everyone thought it's Varun Chakravarthy who led a few positive cases in Ahmedabad. At 2:33 PM a news broke from Chennai Super Kings camp that three people involved with franchise have been tested positive for coronavirus. It took less than 10 minutes for Indian media to find out the names from CSK camp. The name which interested everybody was Lakshmipathy Balaji. It was for obvious reasons - he was the only one from the list of three who was in 'close contact' with players. By the time the news hit Rajasthan Royals camp, who were also scheduled to play their next game against Chennai, opposed of playing against the side until the whole staff get three COVID-19 negative reports.
This meant that BCCI had to reschedule another game of IPL 2021. By now the players, especially overseas became restless and started to communicate to their respective franchise that they wish to go back to their country. Franchises were trying their best to keep players under the impression that all will be fine soon. But they couldn't.
Post this, 5 staff members from DDCA also came positive for coronavirus. However, this news was ruled out later.
With so many things happening on the same day, there was already a big question on future of the tournament. However, it was communicated that tournament will go as per plan with Mumbai Indians playing against Sunrisers Hyderabad on 4th May 2021. It was further communicated that after this game, the board might halt the tournament for 6-7 days for the dust to settle. Little did they knew that Australian media had another plans.
At 12:41 PM IST on 4th May, an Australian journalist took to twitter to reveal that SRH's wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha has also been tested positive. Minutes after the news was hit, another news came from Delhi Capitals camp that Amit Mishra has also been tested positive. Well are we telling the public that so many players tested positive in space of 2 days? Were fans getting to know everything which was happening behind the cameras?
Well, on 3rd May 2021, Australian pacer Pat Cummins unknowingly posted a message in Australian players' group that Varun and Sandeep have been tested positive. From there, it was leaked to Australian media who took it out in the public. Moments later, the other Australian players, who supposedly were not happy by BCCI's and franchise treatment also told about the players who were tested positive in their respective sides.
Players further told the media that Saha was under strict quarantine from past 3 days. Now if Saha was tested positive three days back, why the news wasn't communicated to media earlier?
The health of players, the emotions of fans, the learnings of media - all was put at stake? In fact, it has been told that the board still wanted to continue the event before Indian government finally intervened and asked to postpone the event with immediate effect.
With no clarity on future of IPL, the questions remains very simple - 'Will players find India safe again? , Will teams be comfortable to travel to our nation in future? , Why the event wasn't organised in UAE as done in 2020? Why everything was communicated only when it looked out of reach?' Well, these are the questions for someone else to answer for some other day may be. Currently, all we have is some highlights to watch as India's International game is still 44 days away.
Hopefully, in future if the situation remains the same, the event will be organised at maximum 2 venues. The show must go on.
Until it all starts again,