Empty stadium, recorded cheers

Chandigarh, April 9

IPL’s teenage pangs continue — its fourteenth edition, like the thirteenth last year, is being played in the worst of times for sport, with no fans in the stadium, piped cheers on the TV and relatively subdued build-up.

Covid has been lurking on the edge of the tournament. After some staffers of the tournament venue in Mumbai and a few players or support staff were found infected, there was cause for worry.

The first match tonight was actually affected by Covid, directly or indirectly; in the case of Royal Challengers Bangalore, the effect was direct as they had to drop opening batsman Devdutt Padikkal, who had tested positive for Covid. He subsequently joined the team after testing negative, but missed the IPL opener as he’s been advised rest.

Mumbai Indians were affected indirectly — they too missed an opener, Quinton de Kock, who is in quarantine after arriving from South Africa, where he was part of the ODI series against Pakistan. — TNS

13 vs 14

Hosting the IPL in India is a bigger challenge than hosting it in the UAE, where it was held in 2020.

IPL-13 in the UAE had only three venues — Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. In contrast, IPL-14 has six venues — Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Worryingly, all six are currently Covid hotspots, and some of these cities have night curfew in order to stem the virus.

In IPL-13, the teams were based in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and travelled by road in their exclusive, hired transport facilities. In the current IPL, though, teams need to travel across six venues by air, increasing the danger of infection. They would travel by chartered flights, but they still would need to undergo the security procedures, during which they’d be in contact with persons outside the bubble.

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