Defending champions Mumbai Indians will face Chennai Super Kings in the IPL opener on April 7 in Mumbai. Super Kings will also play the last match of the league phase, which ends on May 20, against Kings XI Punjab. The IPL has also decided not to alter the tournament’s regular match timings with afternoon matches scheduled for a 4pm IST start and the evening matches commencing at 8pm.
In a welcome change, all the double headers – 13 in total – will be played over Saturday and Sunday. In the final schedule released by the IPL on Wednesday, 44 matches during the league phase will be played in the evening, while the remaining 12 games will be start in the afternoon.
In addition to the home bases of the eight franchises, Indore will be the ninth venue, playing host to the home games of Kings XI. Apart from the tournament opener and the final, Mumbai will also host the first qualifier.
Incidentally the venue for the other two play-offs – the eliminator and the second qualifier – remains unnannounced. The main reason behind that was because the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) sent a letter to IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, demanding the two play-off matches be played in Pune, home of last year’s runner-up Rising Pune Supergiant.
In the letter, MCA president Abhay Apte told Shukla that he was merely asking the IPL to stick to the norm and allot the Eliminator and second qualifier to the home base of lastt season’s runner-up. A final decision on the issue is likely to be taken by the IPL Governing Council at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, the IPL acquiesced to the franchises’ demand of sticking to the original match timings and not alter it. In January, the Governing Council had approved the proposal – worked out with the host broadcaster Star – that afternoon matches would begin at 5.30 pm, and evening games would commence at 7pm. The immediate repercussion of that move, the franchises argued, was the second innings of the first match and the first innings of the second would overlap on double-header days.
According to an IPL official, one solution was to start the day match at 3.30pm to “avoid” the overlap. That, however, was not a feasible solution considering the IPL is played during peak summer and the franchises did not want the players to suffer in India’s unforgiving heat.