DUBAI- Dubai, the headquarters of the International Cricket Council, will be the cynosure of more than a billion people over the next two months as it co-hosts along with Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the Indian Premier League and the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup.
The Indian Premier League, the globe’s richest cricket tournament and one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, is currently taking place across three venues in the UAE following the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to conduct the remainder of their marquee tournament’s 14th season in the UAE after concerns over the COVID-19 situation in India forced the suspension of the tournament in May with 31 of the season’s 60 matches still to be played.
Most of cricket’s one billion plus fans from around the world will, however, be waiting for day two of the ICC Twenty20 World cup when traditional rivals India and Pakistan renew their colourful cricketing rivalry here in Dubai on Sunday, 24th October, in the most popular format of the sport.
India vs Pakistan is one of the most intense and enduring rivalries in sports, and with 90 percent of cricket’s billion-plus fans coming from South Asia, the match at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 24th October will be the biggest talking point of the tournament.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of Dubai Sports Council, said, "Several people from India and Pakistan call UAE their home. A lot of Indian and Pakistani fans will be coming to the UAE from around the world for the tournament, and for this match in particular. I expect there will be a great buzz around this game, both inside and outside the stadium.
"This will be the first match between India and Pakistan in more than two years – the first since their clash at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England.
"But before that, there is plenty of cricket to be played. We are proud to welcome the Indian Premier League back. They were here last year and their return reinforces Dubai and UAE’s reputation as the world’s leading host of top international sports tournaments, especially in this challenging COVID-19 era.
"Last year, the IPL family was here for more than two months and the logistics was mindboggling. Eight teams play in the IPL, so you had hundreds of players as well as support and administrative staff here, along with their families living in bio-secure bubbles. In addition, there was an over 700-strong TV production crew and more than 90 commentators.
"It was a daunting endeavour, but together as one team, we pulled it off and we are now looking forward to another great season of IPL ahead – this time with fans in the stadium." The IPL 2021 resumed in Dubai on 19th September with Chennai Super Kings defeating defending champion Mumbai Indians at a sold-out Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which will also host the final on October 15.
A staggering 405 million viewers in India – out of a total TV viewership of 836 million – watched the 2020 tournament, shattering all previous records by any broadcasting property in India. The opening match of the 2020 IPL in UAE was viewed by a whopping 158 million, which was 21 percent higher than 131 million viewers recorded during the opening match of IPL 2019.
The 405 million Indian viewers of the 2020 IPL spent a total of 400 billion minutes watching the tournament, which was a 23 percent jump in total consumption over IPL 2019 (326 billion minutes), and a 12.4 percent increase over ICC World Cup 2019 (356 billion minutes).
The eight teams taking part in the IPL are defending and five-time champions Mumbai Indians, three-time winners and 2019 runners-up Chennai Super Kings, two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who are owned by Indian filmstar Shahrukh Khan, 2008 winners Rajasthan Royals, 2016 champions Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, and Kings XI Punjab.
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