The BCCI-IPL officials, keen and eager to make a major part of the Pepsi-IPL-7 a home affair, are trying to get an undertaking from the Union Home Ministry that it would not intervene if the eight-franchise-team Twenty20 tournament is relocated to India from the first week of May. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has on many occasions in the last week declared that his department would be in no position to spare security for the IPL-7 during election time. But a proactive group in the BCCI-IPL is making a last-ditch effort to get a clear window in early May itself.
A top IPL official told The Hindu on Thursday, "The election commission has announced the Lok Sabha election schedule and we think there is scope to relocate the IPL to India in the first week of May. Elections in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, Karnataka and Odisha would be completed on April 30 and hence we want to schedule the tournament (from third round league matches) in India for the benefit of all stakeholders. The city and state police will not be moved to other states; only the paramilitary and other security personnel will be moved. But first, we are looking for a guarantee from the Home Ministry that it would not object to the tournament being scheduled in India from the first week of May in States where the polls have been completed."
In the event of obtaining the go ahead from the Home Ministry, the BCCI-IPL is more likely to engage the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to conduct 16 league matches from April 13 or 14. "I am dead against taking the first part of the IPL to UAE. We have to consider the cost factor of playing only 16 matches in South Africa. The BCCI has to incur heavy expenditure on logistics, air-fare and accommodation. The three Boards have made a presentation, but as of now, I think, Bangladesh is the preferred choice among BCCI and IPL officials. But all depends on what the Home Ministry officials tell us," said the IPL official dealing with the current fluid situation hands-on. Bangladesh is to stage the 16-nation ICC World Twenty20 from March 16 to April 6 and hence the BCCI-IPL officials feel venues there would be in readiness to host the first phase of the tournament.
Though there is more than a modicum presence of foreign flavor in the eight teams (four overseas are allowed to be fielded in the playing XI of each match), the IPL is a designated domestic tournament of the BCCI with Pepsi as the title sponsor for five seasons from 2013. "For all of us at the BCCI the prime-focus is on cricket. We have to face this election-cycle. We are receiving positive signals ( from the Home Ministry) to allow the BCCI to schedule major part of the IPL-7 in India, but if eventually they say that security cannot be spared until May 12 (last day of the elections), then the preferred choice of South Africa would remain as it is," said a senior BCCI office-bearer.