Drought may take toll on IPL 2019 schedule: Report

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The upcoming Lok Sabha elections are not the only challenge in finalising the Indian Premier League 2019 schedule even if the decks for conducting all the matches at home have been cleared.

Drought conditions loom large in Maharashtra and adjoining States. This unwarranted scenario threatens to upset the IPL 2019 game plan, according to national daily Times of India.

Maharashtra has already been forced to declare more than 900 villages as “drought affected regions”. In the prevailing conditions there may be issues in hosting the IPL games during the summer when the cricket field would need additional watering for being good enough to host the IPL games.

The drought conditions in rural Maharashtra in itself may become a political issue in the election year. The paper has reported that the acute shortage of water in rural Maharashtra could also get a political twist and those who run cricket affairs in India believe the marquee tournament will certainly be “affected” by the crisis.

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The nine-phase general as it is giving BCCI logistic nightmares in finalising a smooth schedule for the IPL Season 12. The home games for teams, security and mandatory clearances for the matches from the authorities concerned are the key issues to address to in finalising the match schedule. The board is already contemplating to do away with the traditional “home and away” IPL games.

If some of the conventional grounds become unavailable due to water scarcity, the challenge will mount further. Avoiding a clash with the election dates in itself is no mean task.

“The idea was to keep neutral venues in mind and host matches in areas that are not clashing with the elections. Now, it’s also become imperative to understand the drought situation better. Nobody’s going to be surprised if PILs get filed in the courts,” TOI reports with reference to a sources, not ignoring the fact that similar issues plagued the IPL 2016 too when Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Giant hosted only five games in Mumbai and Pune respectively.

Close to 930 villages in Maharashtra have been declared drought-affected and State government is already under added pressure from regions like Marathwada who are demanding instant relief.

And, Maharashtra is not the lone State marred by acute water scarcity. Andhra Pradesh too has its share of concerns. The central government recently approved an added financial assistance of ₹900 crore to Andhra Pradesh from National Disaster Response Fund towards drought relief.

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Andhra had come to the BCCI’s rescue to host IPL matches, which were shifted from Mumbai, at Visakhapatnam. The city itself faces water concerns now. Chennai too is affected following a rainfall deficit of 54% this monsoon and those tracking developments say: “A 2017-like crisis is looming”.

Karnataka too has declared 156 of 176 taluks as drought-hit during the rabi season. However, the Karnataka State Cricket Association may still be cleared to host the matches at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru as it uses treated water from the sewage treatment plant.

“This is election season. With politics at play across the country, given the Lok Sabha polls, nobody here is going to be surprised if the IPL once again becomes the centre of all attention,” sources have reportedly told the paper.