The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 begins on Saturday (September 19). The two giants of the epic T20 league; Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will face each other in the opening fixture of the exciting tournament.
Unlike previous times, this year’s IPL will start without the customary opening ceremony featuring Bollywood or Hollywood stars. There will be no crowd, no cheerleaders in the stadium this season as all games would take place behind closed doors.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all eight IPL franchises are in strict bio-secure bubbles ever since they landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ganguly hopeful of high TV ratings
Despite all this, the BCCI President, Sourav Ganguly, expects a boost in viewership for IPL 13. He believes that the crowd who can’t come to the ground will watch the world’s biggest T20 competition on their television sets.
“They (broadcasters) are expecting the highest rating of IPL this season because they believe if (people) don’t turn up in the ground, they will be watching on their television sets. There is a positive in everything,” said Ganguly as quoted by TOI.
Ganguly also revealed that the fans could return to the grounds in the later stages of IPL 2020. The former Cricket Bengal chief stated that 30% of spectators would be permitted to sit in the stands after a proper COVID-19 checkup.
“Because of the COVID and infection, you don’t want people to be too close to each other, but very soon you will see there will be 30 per cent people in the ground with social distancing, They are properly tested and allowed to enter the ground. But I think that is going to happen over some time” the former India captain added.
Top players arrive in UAE for IPL 2020
As mentioned above, teams will follow the strict guidelines of the biosecure bubble. No player or staff member is expected to breach the protocols set up by the authorities and regulatory body.
Not so long ago, when teams arrived in the Gulf nation, some CSK members, including a few players, were tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It has been the prime reason why several cricketers pulled out their name from IPL 2020 citing personal reasons.
Regardless of the controversies, the IPL was able to attract many top-quality overseas cricketers belonging to the international teams like Australia, England, West Indies, New Zealand, and South Africa.
To name a few, stars like David Warner, Kieron Pollard, Trent Boult, Steve Smith, Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Tom Banton, Lungi Ngidi, Dwayne Bravo, Pat Cummins, and Kane Williamson have reached UAE for IPL 2020.