Sharjah stadium ready for IPL, says Waleed Bukhatir

Bukhatir said all the strict health protocols would be put in place for the IPL

  
File Photo: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, United Arab Emirates - 3/11/15 Scoreboard attendant retrieves the ball after Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez hit a six Action Images via Reuters / Jason O'Brien Livepic

File Photo: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, United Arab Emirates - 3/11/15 Scoreboard attendant retrieves the ball after Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez hit a six Action Images via Reuters / Jason O'Brien Livepic

REUTERS

From Javed Miandad's last-ball, match-winning six against bitter rivals India in 1986 to Sachin Tendulkar's Desert Storm in 1998, the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium has witnessed many a cricketing classic.

Now this grand old stadium is all set to stage a high-profile event again as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi would share the 2020 Indian Premier League (Sept. 19-Nov. 10) matches.

The IPL, which was scheduled to start from March 29 in India, was postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And the disturbing rise in coronavirus cases in India put a question mark over the tournament's future.

But the postponement of the 2020 T20 World Cup due to the travel restrictions in Australia gave the BCCI the perfect window to salvage the money-spinner. And the UAE's remarkable success in dealing with the Covid-19 cases made it the strongest contender to stage the cash-rich league.

The BCCI finally made the official announcement on taking the biggest T20 league to the UAE shores after the governing council meeting on Sunday.

"The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) met today via video-conference to decide on the issues concerning the VIVO IPL 2020 edition. Taking note of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in India, the IPL GC decided to stage the tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the matches will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi subject to necessary clearances from the Government of India," Jay Shah, BCCI's honorary secretary, said in a statement. The statement from Shah paved the way for Sharjah to join the IPL carnival again, having staged six matches when the UAE staged the first phase of the 2014 IPL.

And Waleed Bukhatir, the vice-chairman of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, was delighted to have got the chance to host the IPL again. "Hosting one of the world-class sporting events like Indian Premier League (IPL) in our historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium is a great privilege for us and we cannot wait to be on board with the most exciting franchise teams in the world," Bukhatir said.

"For Sharjah Cricket Stadium we have always been ready for such events as we have state of the art facilities and we are all glad to welcome this exhilarating tournament to Sharjah."

Bukhatir said all the strict health protocols would be put in place.

"As per the directives and guidance of UAE government, the safety of the public should come first for any events. We will follow the protocols laid out by the Government and officials," said Bukhatir.

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com

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