The indefinite suspension of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is usually held in March-April, has broken the hearts of many Indian cricket fans. Currently, COVID-19 cases in India are at its peak with cricket in the country having taken a back seat.
While lesser known cricketing nations such as Vanuatu and St Vincent and Grenadines (West Indies) make a return to cricket, IPL 2020 doesn't look like its happening anytime soon.
In an exclusive chat with Shanivi Sadana on Sportskeeda Cricket's Facebook page, Delhi Capitals' CEO Dhiraj Malhotra underlined a potential window for IPL 2020 in September, emphasising that the safety of players and fans will be of paramount importance.
Q. What has been the most challenging bit about this lockdown for a professional like you?
Dhiraj Malhotra: It has been tough. If you have seen my life for the last ten to fifteen years, there have been back to back tournaments and March, April, May are the busiest months due to IPL. But it has been positive in the sense that we have been in touch with most of the players. Currently we are in a positive frame of mind.
Q. The Delhi franchisee is also known to be the home of youngsters, has it helped Delhi Capitals in building its own niche?
Dhiraj Malhotra: It has. The amount of exuberance a young player brings along with their raw talent brings more to the game. We have got good coaches and experienced players as well, so it is a good blend of youth and experience. The young players are willing to take more chances and risks which helps to keep the team on the toes.
Q. So, when are we expecting IPL to happen this year? What is your hunch about IPL window?
Dhiraj Malhotra: Hopefully, ICC (International Cricket Council) will comment on the T20 World Cup. Based on what happens to the decisions regarding the T20 World Cup, there might be an opportunity in September-October 2020. Since there has been no cricket for almost 3 to 4 months, every cricket board is feeling the pressure, so I am sure they will take a decision soon.
Q. Is IPL happening in Dubai or is it happening at home? How will the teams manage the crisscross travel in India?
Dhiraj Malhotra: It’s a call that BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) would have to take. They have been very clear about the fact that safety comes first and then comes the sport. I don’t think that there is any need to go abroad if India recovers, but then again, that call will be taken by BCCI. BCCI will try their best to have it in India. If it’s not safe then there’s another question but even if there is a small chance, BCCI will try its utmost.
Q. What are the thoughts of the franchises if IPL happens behind closed doors?
Dhiraj Malhotra: The only loss that I see, monetarily, is the ticket revenue. But today, with the kind of sponsorship and the broadcasting opportunities that we have, it is still better to have IPL behind closed doors than not having at all.
Q. Should it be made mandatory for IPL teams to hire Indian coaches?
Dhiraj Malhotra: I don’t think so. I know it is Indian Premier League but what would it be without the foreign players? All the teams have more Indian coaching staff than international coaches. It is a good mixture with the foreign player and foreign coaches. Whether Indian coach or international coach they are all working well together.
Q. Is it more pressure for cricketers to play IPL matches than international games?
Dhiraj Malhotra: There is a different kind of pressure. Everybody loves IPL but the ultimate destination is international cricket. When you are playing for international cricket there is a different kind of love, passion, and pressure. Patriotism and responsibility plays an important part in international cricket. When you are playing for IPL you are playing for family.
Q. Will Delhi Capitals miss having Sourav Ganguly as their coach?
Dhiraj Malhotra: Definitely, he will be missed. Apart from having a shrewd cricket mind, he is a really good human being. The amount of experience that he had and his wisdom were great. He was a great asset to us.