"It is a great decision."
The India Premier League (IPL) tournament will be played in South Africa this year. After major concerns over security amidst the general elections taking place at the same in India, the Indian Government could not ensure maximum security for the cricketing event.
Therefore, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and IPL board made the decision to move the tournament to either South Africa or England. But it was South Africa that was successful to host the Twenty20 event. The choice was made primarily due to the weather in South Africa being more suitable than England during the dates of the tournament.
The tournament will start on 18th April 2009, which means it is delayed by a week. It will cover 59 matches across six venues, running from 18th April to 24th May 2009. The IPL matches will begin at 4 PM and 8 PM (IST) to suit Indian audiences. The first match will be played in Cape Town and the final in Johannesburg.
The decision of the IPL to move the tournament for safety and security reasons has been backed by the Bollywood star owners of the teams too.
Shahrukh Khan owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders team said, “It is a great decision.”
Shilpa Shetty, the newest Bollywood co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals, said “I think Modi has taken the right call and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the tournament is going ahead.”
Preity Zinta, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab said, “Elections are number one priority and we had to take it into consideration. We want to have this tournament to happen too, so this is a good decision.”
The chairman of the IPL, Lalit Modi, expects the competition to be a huge success at its new temporary location. With respect to the decision to choose South Africa, Modi said, ”The weather conditions in the month of April and May in South Africa are more favourable than in the United Kingdom for hosting the matches.”
Modi continued, ”We have a lot more hard work ahead of us before the first match takes place on April 18, but I can assure you we will deliver a world-class event. We think this decision is the right one in the interests of the hundreds of millions of fans across the world.”
Cricket is the biggest sport in India and a lot of people are not happy with the decision at all because they feel the competition should stay in India. Regarding this, Modi added, “I know there will be a lot of disappointment the Indian Premier League is not taking place in India this year, but being in South Africa will enable our fans to watch the matches live on the TV screens in India.”
Modi was grateful to the Cricket South Africa authorities for their support and efforts in assisting them to host the event. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were also thanked for their help.
With regards to television coverage of the tournament, the timings are the same for India and South Africa, so the Indian fans will be able to see all the action live on TV. Supersport hold the television rights to the IPL for South Africa, so they will be responsible for the coverage. In the UK, Sentanta Sports will be covering the IPL.