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Indian Premier League Coming to UAE

March 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Cricket, Dubai, The National

Another strange story.

The world’s most popular and financially successful cricket competition, the Indian Premier League, will play the first two weeks of its season in the UAE. (A story The National’s Osman Samiuddin was all over today.)

How weird is that?

Imagine the NFL playings its first month of games in Canada. That’s how weird.

What we are about to find out:

–Does the IPL’s brand of cricket transfer outside India? The IPL plays the short form of the game, pays players semi-serious money and does not apologize for the sort of in-game promotional stuff (fireworks, flames, cheerleaders) that might have given Vince McMahon pause ahead of the XFL launch.

–Will people in the UAE, and about half the population of 8 million comes from cricket-playing countries, turn out in numbers to see IPL cricket played at three stadiums here — in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah?

Why is the IPL moving the whole of its schedule, 16 games, from the first two weeks (basically, the second half of April) … over to the UAE?

For several reasons. The UAE is nearby. The UAE has three pretty good cricket venues, and it also has large a Indian population. And the IPL is a big deal in India — and elsewhere.

They are moving at all because (and this takes a moment to wrap your head around) the league cannot guarantee enough security operatives to make games available, in India, during India’s drawn-out elections — which take more than a month to stage. (And this is an election year.)

Someone who knows the subcontinent explained it to me like this:

“They need heavy security for games generally because 20,000 to 30,000 at subcontinent stadium just needs huge security manpower. Also, all the foreign players demand security as a condition to even come and play.

“And elections are such a massive undertaking that they really do need all kinds of security there. Also what happens there is that politicians and leaders in states appropriate all security forces for themselves: that is just how it happens generally — and they’ve also had a history of assassinations and attempts on public leaders.”

So, the UAE … focal point of global cricket, the end of next month. May be interesting.


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