NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates will host the first leg of this year’s Indian Premier League cricket (IPL), the organisers said on Wednesday.
The lucrative Twenty20 tournament this year clashes with the parliamentary election in the world’s biggest democracy.
A staggering 814 million Indians will be eligible to vote from April 7 in what would be the biggest election the world has ever seen.
Voting will be held in nine stages to May 12, and results are due to be announced on May 16.
With poll security being the Indian government’s priority, UAE would host at least 16 IPL matches from April 16-30, the Indian cricket board said in a statement without naming the venues.
Local media claimed Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah would host those matches.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has approached the interior ministry for permission to host the May 1-12 matches in states where polling would be over, but has kept Bangladesh as a standby in case the government cannot provide security.
“BCCI will abide by the decision of the authorities in this regard. If it is not possible to play in India during this period, IPL matches will be held in Bangladesh,” the board said.
The last set of matches culminating in the June 1 final would be held in India, the board said, promising to share tournament schedules soon.
South Africa hosted the second IPL in 2009 when the cash-awash tournament clashed with the multi-phased election that year.
The Dubai-headquartered International Crickt Council (ICC) hailed the decision, saying IPL matches in UAE would raise the game’s profile in the Gulf nation which has qualified for this year’s World Twenty20 and next year’s 50-over World Cup.
ICC chief David Richardson called it “great news” and pledged the governing body’s support to the event.
“Recognising the importance of the integrity of the competition, the ICC will provide its full support for the matches in the UAE, including through the provision of anti-corruption services,” Richardson said in a statement.
“It will also be a good opportunity for both the BCCI and the ICC to share knowledge and experience as we both strive to deliver memorable events to cricket fans around the world.”
Editing by: Ossian Shine/Alan Baldwin