The decision to postpone the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic could well prove to be a blessing in disguise for the national cricket team.
The final match of the cash-rich T20 cricket tournament, featuring almost every contracted player, was to be played on May 30, thus leaving with a limited window to prepare for the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand.
Now that the IPL is 'over', the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) can focus on planning the itinerary afresh, and hopefully give Virat Kohli & Co enough time to calm their frayed nerved calm and better prepare for the Test cricket's biggest showdown.
BCCI is also likely to announce a jumbo Indian squad sooner than expected.
The WTC final will be played in Southampton starting June 18, and the five-day clash against the Kiwis will be followed by a five-match Test series against Joe Root's hosts.
In fact, according to multiple reports, the Indian contingent is expected to leave for England early to mitigate the travel restrictions for incoming travellers from India by the British government. Only British nationals are allowed to travel from India in the current scenario and they need to serve out a 10-day quarantine at a government-approved facility.
Earlier, it was widely reported that the India and New Zealand players, who featured in IPL 2021, will take a chartered plane to the UK after the completion of the T20 league.
But as the IPL stands suspended, pre-planned arrangements are sure to get altered. By the way, the Kiwis will take on England a two-match Test series, beginning June 2, before the India clash.
Last month, as the brutality of the second COVID-19 wave started to unravel in India, the ICC expressed its confidence that the final in will remain unaffected.
After the UK 'red listing' India, an ICC spokesman was quoted by Cricbuzz as saying: "We are currently discussing with the UK Government the impact of countries being on the 'red list'. The ECB and other Members have demonstrated how we can stage international cricket safely in the middle of a pandemic and we are confident that we can continue to do that and that the World Test Championship Final will go ahead as planned in June in the UK."
For New Zealand, playes who were involved in the IPL -- including captain Kane Williamson -- are likely to remain in India at least till May 10 before flying to England for national duty.
The remaining players as well as the support staff in various IPL teams and commentators could return home by charter flights arrange by the franchises, New Zealand Cricket Players' Association head Heath Mills said.
Mills is expecting a revision in the travel restrictions for incoming travellers from India by the British government.
"Due to the UK border restrictions, that group cannot get into England until May 11. It is obviously challenging for them to wait for another few days (in India)," Mills told ESPNcricinfo.
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