ICC leaning towards T20 World Cup in UAE

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Why BCCI wants more time on T20 WC call

IPL postponed as Covid-19 count increases

On May 29, Ganguly told the BCCI members at a special general body meeting that the board would seek additional time to decide whether India was fit to host the World Cup.The challenge for the BCCI is two-fold. The biggest one concerns the pandemic situation in India, which is currently battling the second wave of covid infections. Health experts are predicting a third wave during the winter when the World Cup is scheduled. Currently, India is only behind the USA on the list of countries with the highest number of infections.India also is on the red list of several countries which have barred all travel to and from the country. Recently, the BCCI was forced to postpone the eight-team IPL after the growing number of Covid-19 positive cases in the second leg of the tournament, which was held in Delhi and Ahmedabad.For the World Cup, the BCCI had proposed nine venues to the ICC. However, an ICC team of experts, meant to land in India in late April for inspection of the venues, had to cancel their plans due to the second wave of the pandemic. Internally, the ICC’s teams have been nervous about the amount of travel that would be involved with multiple venues. As it happens, travel was identified as one potential point of exposure for teams during the IPL.The second challenge for the BCCI, a longstanding one, concerns the tax waiver sought by the ICC from the Indian government to host the global tournament. Despite getting several extensions from the ICC, the BCCI has still not been able to resolve the issue over the past few years.That it is a significant issue can be gauged from the fact that the BCCI would need to pay close to 43% tax to the Indian government from the estimated revenue it derives hosting the World Cup. That sum is close to INR 900 crore (US $125 million). In the last two meetings with its members – the state associations – the BCCI got the nod to pay the amount as long as India could host the tournament.It is understood that the BCCI has to give a final response to the ICC in writing on the tax exemption by mid-June. With just under five months remaining for the World Cup, the ICC is increasingly becoming anxious only because if the tournament were to be held in India and then abruptly suspended, they would have no window to complete the tournament.On Tuesday, some of the 16 directors attending the ICC Board meeting, are believed to have asked Ganguly how things in India would change in a month. Ganguly’s response was the covid situation in India was getting better by day. ESPNcricinfo has learned that majority of the ICC Board was willing to approve shifting the World Cup from India to the UAE on Tuesday itself, only because the ground situation in India with respect to the pandemic would not see any dramatic change by the end of June.Even the BCCI is aware of such a prospect. Its top brass, including board secretary Jay Shah and other senior office bearers and management officials, reached Dubai on Monday to hold discussions with the Emirates Cricket Board and the local government on both moving the IPL to the UAE and potentially the World Cup.In the case that both the IPL and the World Cup are hosted in the UAE a total of 76 matches – 31 + 45 – would be played in span of two months. To mitigate the risk of the pitches at the main venues – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – getting weary, the ICC has earmarked another country in the Gulf, likely to be Oman, to play co-host to the World Cup.Sourav GangulyIndia

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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