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2021 T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka emerges as ‘dark horse’ to host event after BCCI engages with SLC

While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has already been in discussions with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) about hosting the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, in a recent turn of events, Sri Lanka has entered the race as the “dark horse” to assist India in hosting the showpiece event. According to sources close to the situation, while BCCI officials have been speaking with ECB officials, there have also been discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

“See, there is no denying that BCCI and ECB officials have been in talks about moving the showpiece event to the UAE in light of the COVID-19 situation in India. However, it should be noted that hosting the IPL would entail a large number of games, not to mention other tournaments or matches that might be held in some of the venues and tired wickets by the time of the World Cup.

“With the playing conditions in mind, there have been some discussions with SLC officials and, to be honest, just basic discussions. It is too early to go into specifics, but we still have some time before we need to get back to the ICC and inform them of the situation, as the BCCI will retain hosting rights even if the match is played outside of India,” a BCCI source was quoted as saying by the news agency.

While the UAE has three venues in Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka will have many more options, with three stadiums in Colombo alone. Intriguingly, the SLC had also announced its intention to assist the BCCI in hosting the remainder of the 14th edition of the IPL in the September-October window.

According to the sources, if the host broadcasters want to consider Sri Lanka, they could back India. “See, these are difficult times, and the situation with COVID-19 is ever-changing. So, don’t think the host broadcasters will mind if the BCCI considers Sri Lanka as a possible venue for the showpiece event. Keeping options open is not a bad thing, according to the source.

However, the BCCI must first inform the ICC of its position on tax exemption for the T20 World Cup. “First and foremost, the BCCI must submit the tax exemption guarantee by June 15, and then things will move forward one by one, with the Indian board also needing to inform the ICC by June 28 about its position regarding hosting the event in the country,” according to the source.

Following the board meeting, the ICC confirmed that the BCCI would retain hosting rights for the T20 World Cup even if the tournament was relocated outside of India. The ICC Board also requested that management focus its planning efforts for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 on the event being held in the UAE, with the possibility of including another Middle Eastern venue.

“We will make a final decision on the host country later this month. The Board also confirmed that the BCCI will continue to host the event regardless of where it is played,” the ICC stated in an official release.

During the BCCI SGM, it was unanimously decided that, with more than four months until the main event, the BCCI would propose to the ICC that the body give the body until the end of June or the beginning of July to make a decision on hosting the tournament.

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