Friday, 16 April 2021

IPL all set to start despite Covid-19 cases surge

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MUMBAI – The Indian Premier League is not only one of the world’s most lucrative annual sporting properties but also among the most durable, with not even the lengthening shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic apparently able to stop the Twenty20 juggernaut.

The Indian cricket board (BCCI), however, is bullish about the chances of pulling it off.

Champions Mumbai Indians, captained by Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore get the eight-team tournament going at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday. Both teams have already been hit by Covid-19 cases in their camps, however, raising questions over the effectiveness of the health protections afforded to the cricketers by the bubble.

Players will be well compensated for their stint in India as, even without ticket sales, the IPL was still worth $6.19 billion last year, according to financial consultancy firm Duff & Phelps. That was down from $6.78 billion in 2019.

The BCCI would have been left with a $542 million hole in its coffers if it had cancelled its flagship event last year but ended up with record TV and digital viewership.

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