After being forced to scheduled its 13th season in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Premier League (IPL) will return home this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed on Sunday.

The 2021 edition of the IPL will be played at six venues, but all the eight participating teams won’t play a single game at their home venues, the BCCI said as it released the schedule for the world’s biggest T20 tournament.

Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata will host ten games each, while Delhi and Ahmedabad will host eight each. The first 36 group stage matches will be played across Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi, while the next 20 will take place in Bengaluru and Kolkata – this is because elections in West Bengal will be held late March to late April, while, in Bengaluru, the floodlights at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium are being replaced.

Why no crowds?

Though BCCI had opened the final three Tests of the recently-concluded four-match series against England to 50 per cent capacity, the Indian board want to play it safe for IPL. The key reason behind this decision was that the IPL is an eight-team competition instead of a bilateral series where two teams can be more easily managed in a bio-secure environment.

Also, with many of the IPL venues listed, spectators can be in the vicinity of a dressing room, and there is always a danger of safety protocols being breached.

In the meantime, Bollywood actress and Punjab Kings’ co-owner Preity Zinta is feeling ‘weird’ after having a look at the complete schedule of IPL 2021.

“IPL schedule is finally here & @PunjabKingsIPL starts #IPL2021 in amchi Mumbai then travels to Chennai, Ahmedabad & Bangalore for our league matches. It’s a weird feeling that no teams will play any matches at their home venues & there will be no crowds in the stadiums as of now,” Preity wrote in her Twitter post.

The opening match will be played between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.


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