BCCI handed a green signal to 10-team IPL from 2022 as what is seen as a big addition to the Indian top-tier league getting expanded. In another development, the board is looking to add neutral venues for the additional matches in the IPL just two years down the line. Ahmedabad’s newly reconstructed 1,10,000-capacity Motera stadium is seen as a favorite to be added to the IPL-hosting list, but the city is also tipped to be the home of one of the new IPL franchises. Other cities like Lucknow and South Indian states are in contention too.
“Once IPL becomes a 10-team league, franchises must be asked to play two of their home matches at a neutral venue,” Jaydev Shah, president of Saurashtra cricket association (SCA) proposed at the BCCI’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday.
“It’s the only way smaller centers who have spent crores on infrastructure get opportunity and experience. We were told the matter will be taken up by the IPL Governing Council,” Shah said.
Will Neutral Venues Be A Problem For Big Teams?
Big teams like Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Kolkata Knight Riders have gradually built a loyal fan base in their cities and would not want to lose out on gate receipts. So Neutral venues won’t be loved by these teams but on the other hand, small cities will be getting chances to watch IPL matches in the stadium which will be overwhelming for them.
It’s also a case of not wanting to lose out on the home advantage of playing on familiar pitches. “CSK’s spin to win strategy at home is well known,” said a former IPL official.
“We tried at Delhi Daredevils (DD) by taking matches to Raipur,” said former DC CEO, Hemant Dua. “It can be tried in a 10-team IPL, depending upon the format they decide on. But venues have to be closer to home. Mumbai may not mind traveling to Pune, but you don’t want to go down south, for example.”
But those like Saurashtra’s Shah, a former cricketer himself, reminds us that spreading cricket to smaller venues is a mandate before the BCCI. “All the World Cup matches go to the big venues. The IPL matches go to the big venues. Smaller centers where fans are starved of quality cricket must get to watch IPL now that we have international grounds in place,” he said.