The much-anticipated 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will finally hit the floors from this Saturday (September 19) and the IPL's governing council chairman Brijesh Patel is expecting the season to be the highest viewed in the league's history so far.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) will take on their biggest rivals Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the opener to kickstart what will be another roller-coaster ride at venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah over the next 53 days.
Patel, though aware of the need to keep the guard going amid COVID-19 outbreak, is also satisfied to have reached this far in organisation of the event in bio-security bubbles after it was postponed from its original window in April-May and even faced genuine threat of cancellation because of the pandemic.
"It is very satisfying to see IPL happening after all the hurdles on the way. Finally, we are able to make it happen but this is only the beginning as it is a long tournament, so we can not afford to be complacent but definitely, it is very satisfying," Patel told ANI.
"I think cricket fans were a bit disappointed when it was postponed and nothing was certain about the fate of the tournament. But now they (fans) are looking forward to seeing some live cricket, so I feel this year's viewership will be the highest ever and this year's IPL should be bigger than last year as well," he added.
Patel thanked BCCI and IPL officials, as well as the Indian government for making the event possible in UAE, where the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) has also been hugely supportive.
"It is also the hard work and patience of all our members in the BCCI and the IPL officials; they have put in a lot of hard work to make it happen. To start with, it was the Indian government who gave us the nod to host the IPL abroad; and I would also like to thank ECB, who willingly wanted to have IPL in the UAE," Patel said.
"See, there is no hold on the pandemic, no one could control it, so we had to keep waiting and watching and find out where and when we can play. It was in no one's hand. It could be anywhere, but UAE had controlled the Covid-19 situation."
"We are taking care of all the guidelines and giving priority to the health and safety of players, which is no doubt paramount for us," he added