New Delhi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been named as standby for the T20 World Cup in case the worsening COVID-19 situation does not improve in India, a top official of the Indian cricket board (BCCI) confirmed.
“It (hosting venue) would be the UAE. We’re hoping again that it would be done by the BCCI. So, we’ll take the tournament there, but it’ll still be done by the BCCI,” Dhiraj Malhotra, BCCI’s general manager for game development, told BBC’s Stumped podcast.
India are due to host the tournament in October-November but a second wave of COVID-19 has hit the country badly with well over 3.5 lakh new cases and 3,000-plus deaths daily over the last few days.
On Friday, the number of fresh COVID-19 cases breached the four lakh mark for the first time ever along with over 3,500 deaths.
If the situation doesn’t improve, it will be the first time India will be hosting an international tournament or a series outside the country.
The BCCI has hosted the Indian Premier League (IPL) abroad before — in South Africa in 2009 and in the UAE in 2020. It also hosted part of the 2014 IPL edition in the UAE.
“I’ve just been named one of the tournament directors, so I’m doing everything we can to make sure it happens,” said Malhotra.
“We will be doing normal scenario, and worst case scenario, so with all that we’re talking to the ICC at the moment.”
Australia will host the T20 World Cup in 2022 which was postponed from last year due to the pandemic.
There has been criticism from certain sections over the conduct of the IPL during the time of pandemic. The tournament is underway with the final scheduled to be held on May 30.
Former England footballer and journalist Piers Morgan have said the tournament shouldn’t be held in prevailing circumstances.
Three Australian players have left while India’s R Ashwin quit the tournament to tend to his family which has been affected by COVID-19.
Both Zampa and Tye have also raised questions over the hosting of the tournament at this time of the year.
But Malhotra said the BCCI will go with ‘common sentiment’ on whether the IPL should continue.
“There’s not been any clear implication of any clear directive that it is bad to host the IPL, or good to host the IPL,” Malhotra said.