It’s been almost 18 months since cricket’s biggest club competition’s 12th season came to an end. That’s when the Mumbai Indians lifted the Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy in front of more than 50 000 fans in Hyderabad.
The 2020 edition of the tournament was due to begin back in March before the global pandemic put proceedings to a halt.
This week, though, fixtures were released as the Dream 11 IPL is all set to begin on 19 September in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It’s only the third time the elite Twenty20 tournament is taking place outside of India.
IPL heads for UAE
The 2009 edition happened right here in South Africa and then there was the 2014 event in the UAE. Now the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has created the bio bubble there during these unprecedented times.
Matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah with the times changing from 12:30pm to 12:00 noon and 16:30 to 16:00 South African standard time.
These changes were made to suit time zones globally, with the Indian time slot crucial to broadcasters on the sub-continent.
The highly anticipated 13th season begins with defending champions the Mumbai Indians locking horns with Chennai Super Kings. They will face up to each other in Abu Dhabi in an evening IPL game on Saturday 19 September.
South African stars are back
South African sweetheart AB de Villiers’ side is the Royal Challengers of Bangalore. Fellow Saffer Dale Steyn spearheads the bowling.
Led by Indian captain Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers will get their season underway on Monday, 21 September. They will play against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Watch out, because this is a team that has stopped them from winning a title on multiple occasions.
One-time winners the Rajasthan Royals will play the MS Dhoni-Faf Du Plessis unit.
And then they tackle last year’s runners-up, Chennai Super Kings, the following day in Sharjah.
The Kolkata Knight Riders start their campaign on Wednesday 23 September.
There will be 10 double headers during the course of the league before the playoff rounds and final in early November.
New sponsor for 2020 IPL
The IPL Governing Council has also announced Dream 11 as the new title sponsor of the 2020 edition of the tournament.
IPL chairman Brijesh Patel said: “We welcome Dream 11 on board as title sponsor for the 2020 edition of the IPL.”
In dealing with this “new normal”, all players have completed their self-isolation periods.
According to VPS Healthcare, the Abu Dhabi based official medical partner of the IPL, the “bio-bubble is now secure”.
The company said on Wednesday that over 3 500 tests have been done so far. What’s more, it plans to conduct more than 20 000 tests over the tournament.
The full schedule
All matches will be broadcast live and exclusive to SuperSport on the African continent.
Here is the full IPL 2020 schedule: