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Cricket news - Match timings in focus ahead of IPL GC meeting

The debate on advancing the start of an evening game to 7.30 pm has raged for two seasons now

The debate on advancing the start of an evening game to 7.30 pm has raged for two seasons now

The Indian Premier League governing council is all set to meet in New Delhi on Monday, January 27, and once again, top on the agenda, is the match-timing. As the league makes a final rush to come up with the schedule for the 2020 edition, sorting out Rajasthan Royals' request to play in Guwahati among other things, the call to change the start of evening matches from 8 to 7.30 pm is in focus again.

The debate on advancing the start of an evening game to 7.30 pm has raged for two seasons now. In 2018, Star had "requested" for a 7pm start and later changed their demand to 7.30. This year again, they have left it to the BCCI to consider their request.

The BCCI has not discussed this matter with any of the franchises, formally or informally. The broadcaster's demand is based on the following logic: A) An early start followed by an early wrap up (post-match presentation) will significantly increase viewership and help with the ratings; B) Sponsors of the league and franchises will get more exposure; C) Crowds will be able to retire early than having to wait until mid-night.

However, there are aspects that don't sit well with the idea of an early start either. "Dew is a big factor under lights and an early start will give one team more advantage than the other. Crowds in cities like Mumbai and Bangalore need time after wrapping up work to reach their respective venues. Even in an 8pm start, stadium begins to fill up only by 8.30pm. More importantly, cricket can't be compromised for TV ratings," say those in favour of an 8pm start.

Ten teams or nine?

The Board and its GC are still busy contemplating whether one new team should be added to the IPL, ahead of the 2021 edition or two teams should be introduced at one go. TOI had reported about BCCI's plans to bring in two new franchises and further written about why only one new team could be introduced for now - keeping the available window in mind. "The BCCI is still working on it. If new franchises have to be introduced, why not bring in both at one go and have the 2011 format (74 matches) in place for 2021 and 2022?" say those tracking developments.

To start the league by March 20 and wrap it up in the last week of May will give the IPL an approximate 60 to 65-day window. "74 matches can be easily played during this time," add stakeholders.

Either a 2011-kind format, when teams were divided into two groups or splitting the IPL into two separate windows - with the second half of the tournament to be played around October - will have to be considered if two new teams are introduced. Nine teams for now would've given more space ideally. Let's see," say sources. Office-bearers of BCCI will also attend the meeting.

Schedule to be finalized

Heading into the month of February, the IPL 2020 schedule is still not out yet and one of the reasons behind the delay is whether or not to play in Guwahati - a request put in by Rajasthan Royals.

Royals have been looking to play some matches outside of Jaipur - a decision born out of compulsions that they are not ready to spell out yet. Royals have, in fact, made the specific request that they would like to play their first two matches of the season in Guwahati. "Security concerns need to be addressed too (in Guwahati). The schedule is ready," say sources.

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