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Franchises ready to pool in to get South African players to UAE for IPL

Be it AB de Villiers for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kagiso Rabada for Delhi Capitals, Faf du Plessis for Chennai Super Kings or Quinton de Kock for Mumbai Indians, some of the top stars in the Indian Premier League (IPL) hail from South Africa. And with air travel restrictions on in the Rainbow Nation due to the increase in coronavirus cases, IPL teams are willing to pool in to get them all to fly into UAE on a chartered plane.

Speaking to IANS, an official of one of the franchises said that it is an idea that has been discussed informally and a final call will be taken once the IPL Governing Council (GC) meets on Sunday and gives the franchises a roadmap on the way forward going into the 13th edition of the league.

"We are aware that the South African players are somewhat stuck and we will take a call on them after the IPL GC meeting on Sunday. Informally we have had discussions and it is not restricted to one or two franchises. Almost all the franchises have top stars coming in from South Africa and it only makes sense to have them all fly in to UAE on a chartered plane and the franchises share the expense. A final call can only be taken by the franchises after Sunday," the official explained.

Echoing the sentiments, another official said that rather than each franchise hiring a chartered plane, all South African players can be brought to UAE on a single flight. "Why would we want one plane to bring a player for one franchise and another for another franchise? At a time when travel restrictions are on and everyone is moving very cautiously, it is only practical that we have them all come in together in one plane," the official said.

In fact, the BCCI was also expected to send in a team to UAE before the IPL teams start heading to the country to do a recce of the arrangements made in the country as teams are looking to stay primarily in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. "Nobody is keen on staying in Sharjah. You have around 15 of the top international chain of hotels spread across Abu Dhabi and Dubai and that is where we are looking to stay. We were told that the BCCI was looking to send in a team before we head to UAE.

"Not sure how that is placed now since there are no commercial flights going and chartered planes will be the way forward. But that should be no problem because over the years if there is something that we have seen when it comes to the IPL is the way the BCCI executes the plans and ensures that the tournament is held without even a minor hiccup," the official said..