Cricket
Nagraj Gollapudi 535d

BCCI announces mini IPL for September

The BCCI has decided to host a shortened version of the IPL overseas every September, starting this year, branding it the "mini IPL" or "IPL overseas". BCCI president Anurag Thakur said the final dates and format will be announced in due course. It is understood that a final approval is contingent to various issues being sorted, including matters with the franchises and the broadcaster.

"In the month of September, the BCCI is willing to host a mini IPL or IPL overseas," Thakur said at the end of the board's working committee meeting in Dharamsala on Friday. "[It will be] a shorter format, not home and away matches but a lesser number of matches; in a two-week window we will be able to complete it."

According to a senior BCCI official, the idea to explore playing the IPL overseas only came recently. It is understood the idea emerged after a few franchises approached the BCCI seeking permission to play friendly matches in the USA. "This has all come out of letters from some franchises who wanted to play friendly matches in USA," the official said. "Now we have turned down. Now he [Thakur] is saying we will conduct. Now if we conduct, then franchises will ask who will pay the players. What about sponsors? What about broadcasters?"

Thakur said that with the Duleep Trophy - India's first-class zonal competition - scheduled for the end of September, the BCCI only had a restricted window available for the mini IPL. "It is a tight schedule. It is in a less than two-week window we have to organise [the tournament]. And we have to look into various details: which country we can play in, how many teams, how many players should participate, who will be the broadcaster - all these issues need to deliberated, but we are keen to play in that window."

Sony owns the broadcasting rights for the IPL till 2017, but it is understood that Star, which holds the rights for home series in India, is a strong contender to bag the overseas IPL deal. "More details can be shared once we speak to the various stakeholders," Thakur said. "We'll speak to the franchises, to the broadcaster, and look at the revenue model before finalising the dates and the format."

The USA and the UAE were two options that were discussed at both the IPL governing council meeting and the working committee meeting, but Thakur remained non-committal about the venue. "There are many options, many countries host the IPL. So there will be a process to look at the various time zones available, various markets available, which could be the best partner country, whether every year it should be hosted in that country or the countries can be changed."

At the meeting, the BCCI also decided to pass the proposal to hold Ranji Trophy games at neutral venues in the coming season, and replace the state-based domestic T20 tournament - the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy - with a zonal-based competition. A release issued after the meeting also said the board will have a separate marketing budget in the coming season to "popularise" Test cricket, and restrict the participation of players in Under-19 World Cups.

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