Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Kanpur shortlisted as alternative IPL venues
IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla has said that Visakhapatnam, Raipur and Kanpur are frontrunners to be alternative home venues for Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants after a Bombay High Court ruling ordered matches after April 30 to be moved out of Maharashtra due to a state-wide drought. He also said Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata were in contention to host the three playoff games - the Eliminator, Qualifier 2 and final - that were scheduled to be played in Pune and Mumbai.
Shukla confirmed he would meet with representatives from both franchises in Delhi on April 15 to formulate a revised arrangement, which will later be ratified by the IPL governing council. He said, however, that the Maharashtra Cricket Association and the IPL would request the Bombay High Court for permission to host the match between Supergiants and Mumbai in Pune on May 1 due to difficulties involved in shifting equipment.
"Since there is a match on April 29 and May 1 in Pune - back-to-back matches - it will be almost impossible to move the equipment in 24 hours to another venue," Shukla told reporters in Rajkot. "That's a technical problem, so we are going to appeal tomorrow to the Bombay High Court if they can allow one more match in Pune. The other matches will be shifted. We decided yesterday that we are not going for an appeal. We will be implementing the verdict given by the court."
Kings XI Punjab were scheduled to play three home matches in Nagpur in May and Shukla said the franchise will shift those games to Mohali and Dharamsala.
He also suggested that Jaipur was a prospective venue if either Mumbai or Supergiants expressed interest. "The RCA can't host the match but the government has approached us to host the match," Shukla said. "We will put Jaipur also as an option. Let's see how the franchises react. We can host [matches without RCA being there]. There is a sports council of the government."
Shukla revealed Supergiants had requested the use of Eden Gardens as a home venue but said the IPL rules may not allow it.
"Technically, it's very difficult because it is the designated home ground of a franchise," he said. "So far two matches of Gujarat Lions are slotted in Kanpur. If these franchises want Kanpur then those two matches will be played in Rajkot."
While Chennai and Ranchi were ruled out, Shukla said he was waiting to hear from the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association on Indore's availability. "The MPCA secretary is checking with the authorities because the Kumbh Mela is going on and all the security forces have been deployed there."
Shukla said the biggest logistical challenge was movement of equipment: "It is a gigantic exercise. Then all those things - the look and feel of stadium, ticketing, maintenance of ground and wickets - will have to be looked into as well."
The court's ruling came after a Public Interest Litigation questioned the hosting of matches in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, and the order affects 13 games in the tournament. Mumbai was scheduled to host four matches after April 30, including the tournament final on May 29. Pune will miss out on six matches, including the Eliminator and Qualifier 2, while Nagpur will not host any fixtures this season.
While hearing the PIL filed by Loksatta Movement, a Hyderabad-based NGO, last week, the court sought an explanation from the BCCI and the three state associations on why water should be "wasted" on hosting games when the state faced one of its worst ever droughts. In the next hearing, the court allowed the opening match to be held as scheduled in Mumbai on April 9, but earlier this week asked the BCCI if matches could be shifted out of Pune.
In its defence, the BCCI had stated that less water was used to prepare the ground for an IPL game when compared to an international fixture. The board also stated that it intended to use treated sewage water for ground preparation in Mumbai and Pune. Mumbai and Supergiants had also proposed to contribute INR 5 crore to the Maharashtra chief minister's drought relief fund and supply 40 lakh litres of water to drought-hit areas at their own cost.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun