The 2022 season of IPL is set to start in the last week of March, and is scheduled to run till May end. ESPNcricinfo has learned that in a meeting with the ten franchises on Saturday (January 22), the IPL authorities informed owners that they had pencilled in March 27 as a likely start date.
The franchises were also told that the tournament would be held in India, with Mumbai slotted in as the main venue. And in case the Covid-19 numbers in India are low at the time, Ahmedabad could be considered as a second venue to host the play-offs. In case the pandemic situation in India is found to be not feasible to host the tournament, then South Africa and the UAE will be the back-up options in no particular order. At Saturday's meeting, the IPL told the franchises that a final decision is expected to be taken by February 20.
The reason the IPL has zeroed in on just one venue in Mumbai, which has multiple grounds, was to avoid travel and the debacle of 2021 edition, when the tournament had to be called off at the halfway stage due to the spike in the number of cases among teams. One key reason responsible for teams reporting growing Covid-19 positive cases was travelling between different cities. The tournament was postponed, before the second leg was held in the UAE in September-October.
India is currently experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, with the Omicron variant dominant across the country. Though the impact is less severe, the high degree of transmissibility has led to stringent curbs on movement and public activities in big cities.
Incidentally, even in 2021, the IPL had thought about holding the entire tournament in Mumbai, before deciding to host it across two cities at a time. This time they have decided to wait until mid-February, by when necessary government permissions would have been received and the feasibiity of hosting the tournament, which will feature 74 matches, in Mumbai can be checked.
Along with the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai also has two other grounds that have hosted international matches: the Brabourne Stadium and the DY Patil stadium. There is also the Mumbai Cricket Association-run ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex, which has hosted domestic tournaments and where IPL teams have trained in the past.
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Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo