IPL 2021 starts, BCCI admits, ‘task very challenging, praying we deliver tournament without hiccups’: The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) finally kick starts today with MI vs RCB match. BCCI has admitted that amid Covid-19 challenge, they are literally praying for a successful event. In an exclusive interview with InsideSport.co, IPL governing council member and BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal declared, ‘we are still confident to deliver very successful IPL 2021′
Insidesport.co spoke with Dhumal at length about the concerns, measures and how BCCI is looking forward to yet another successful IPL season despite the surge of 2nd wave of the Covid pandemic.
Following are the excerpts from the interview:
Insidesport.co: The D-Day has finally arrived and IPL 2021 is beginning tonight. What are your immediate thoughts for the day?
Arun Dhumal: I am keeping my fingers crossed. The whole world is watching us. IPL is the biggest sporting extravaganza after the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and ICC World Cup. In terms of interest level, it perhaps exceeds them. Finally, the day has come. IPL will begin. It shows the strength of BCCI and India to stage a tournament of this magnitude with confidence under such circumstances. We had a wonderful IPL season last year. I just hope and pray that everything remains in control like 2020.
Insidesport.co: As you mentioned, IPL 2020 passed off successfully with not many hiccups but IPL 2021 is extremely challenging under the surge of 2nd wave of Covid cases in India. What makes you feel confident that this season too will pass off without major hiccups?
Arun Dhumal: Hiccups are part of life and we just have to deal with them. I can’t say that there won’t be any major hiccups. There are already cases and we have dealt with them. Covid 19 cases are not in our control and it’s ever-increasing. What is in our control is the bio bubble created with the players, coaches and support staff. That bio-bubble is our responsibility and that has not been breached. We assure everyone that together with the full cooperation with the franchisees we will try our best to ensure that the bubble is protected till the end of the IPL season.
Insidesport.co: What are the measures that BCCI has taken in view of the growing Covid cases all over India especially in Mumbai?
Arun Dhumal: We didn’t require any major changes this time from last time (in UAE). It was a continuation of the same stringent measures — a strict bio-bubble, periodic and thorough sanitation. Bio-bubble has been further tightened and dedicated people are there from the BCCI to oversee that. I can assure you that everything is under control so far. And I hope and pray that everything remains that way only.
Insidesport.co: Four players — Nitish Rana, Axar Patel, Devdutt Padikkal and Daniel Sams along with Mumbai Indians talent scout Kiran More have tested positive. Does that make you worry and nervous?
Arun Dhumal: It’s not the time to worry or be nervous. It’s a time to take the situation under control and manage it well. We are well equipped to do that. The bio-bubble has not been breached or any hole created in it. Those who have tested positive were coming from outside the bubble mostly perhaps getting exposed to Covid 19 during their travel. Since the players who are coming and joining the team from outside the bubble can only join the players’ bubble after 7-8 days of compulsory quarantine in their hotel room during which they have to give 3 compulsory tests, the chances of its spreading do not arise.
Insidesport.co: Given the extraordinary situation, is BCCI contemplating doing Covid tests on players on a daily basis and request the government for compulsory vaccination of all players?
Arun Dhumal: Testing players on a daily basis does not make much sense and is unlikely to help either. As of now, we are testing the players every 3rd day. And let’s be honest, those who are in priority for vaccination must be vaccinated first. The Indian cricketers still do not come under that category. This is something purely to be decided by the government and Union Health Ministry. I leave it to them to decide. As of now, the priority is for those above 45 years and Olympic bound Indian sportspersons. All IPL players are well below the age of 45 and are strong and can recover quickly as we have seen with Nitish Rana & Devdutt Padikkal.
Insidesport.co: So what will your final remarks on the possibility of a smooth and successful IPL 2021?
Arun Dhumal: IPL is perhaps the most successful sporting league after the English Premier League and Champions League. As EPL and CL are being held successfully, I hope, wish and pray that we hold this tournament successfully just like the previous years. Indian cricket has been enormously benefitted from IPL. India team has the best bench strength and much of the credit goes to IPL for this. I wish all the players especially the youngsters good luck.