IPL to start without glitz and glamour

IPL is all set to entertain cricket fans after a long delay due to pandemic. This year there will be no grand opening for the mega event, cheerleaders will also be missed as a precaution

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NH Web Desk

IPL is all set to entertain the cricket fans after a long delay due to the pandemic. This year there will be no grand opening for the mega event, cheerleaders will also be missed as a precaution for a pandemic.

The much-delayed and awaited Indian Premier League starts Saturday without its customary glitz and glamour. The Twenty20 tournament is expected to be a welcome relief to cricket fans during the coronavirus pandemic. The short-form extravaganza normally starts in March but along with other major international sporting events was postponed as countries went into virus lockdowns.

It was then moved to the United Arab Emirates as cases rose in India. All the eight teams have been in strict, bio-secure 'bubbles' since landing in the UAE.

The competition is set to kick off when defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi on September 19. There will be no gala opening ceremony for the world's richest T20 league, and the games will be played behind closed doors at three venues including Dubai and Sharjah. Yet president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Sourav Ganguly, expects a surge in viewership for the 13th edition with the matches scheduled for India's evening primetime TV slots.

Ganguly said crowds could even return to the stands later in the 53-day tournament, which ends on November 10.

Because of the COVID and infection, crowds are kept away from the stadiums, but BCCI plans to allow 30 percent people in the ground with social distancing.

They will be properly tested and allowed to enter the ground. But It might happen over a period of time, according to BCCI. Rajasthan Royals batsman Robin Uthappa believes the tournament will attract cricket-lovers after a year hit by sporting postponements and cancellations.

To reduce the number of people on the grounds, there will be no dancing cheerleaders.

Players will be ferried to and from hotels under strict BCCI health safety protocols. More than 20,000 coronavirus tests will be carried out, officials say.

The tournament has already been under scrutiny after two Chennai players tested positive for the coronavirus. Several top players pulled out in the build-up, mostly citing personal reasons.

The IPL has attracted top foreign stars with Australia's Pat Cummins the most expensive overseas player after he was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for $2.17 million at auction. The spotlight will also be on Indian stars including Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and star batsman Virat Kohli, who will seek his maiden IPL title with Royal Challengers Bangalore. Dhoni retired from international cricket last month but remains one of the biggest attractions of the tournament

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