UAE to host 20 IPL games in first phase
The first phase of the IPL will have 20 matches in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai from April 16-30, the organisers have announced. The opening match of IPL 2014 will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on April 16 between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.
It is understood the tournament launch will take place on April 15 in Abu Dhabi. According to the schedule released by the IPL, five of the 15 days of the first phase will be double-headers that will be played over the weekends. The first match will start at 2.30pm local time (1030 GMT, 1600 IST) and the evening game at 6.30pm (1430 GMT, 2000 IST).
The schedule was chalked out to allow each of the eight franchises to play at least once in all three cities, and also feature in at least one of the double-header weekends. Abu Dhabi and Dubai will host seven matches each while six games will be played in Sharjah.
The IPL was moved to an alternative venue after its schedule coincided with the Indian elections, slated to be held between April 17 and May 12, giving rise to security issues. While the primary objective of the IPL was to host the most number of matches in India, the Indian home ministry made it clear it would not be possible to provide the required security for the tournament during the elections.
However, a BCCI statement said that state administrations had responded to an initiative by the federal government and indicated their willingness to hold matches. This, the BCCI said, led it to believe that the IPL could be staged in India from the first week of May.
There were concerns about Sharjah as a venue, given its associations with match-fixing in the past, but assurances from the UAE government and cricket officials in the country were adequate for the BCCI to believe that the tournament could be conducted in a corruption-free manner.