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IPL 2021: Maharashtra government allows teams to practice post 8pm at Wankhede

The Maharashtra government on Monday (April 5) cleared the decks for the Indian Premier League (IPL) to take place in the COVID-19-ravaged Mumbai, allowing teams to practice after 8pm and travel to their respective hotels during the night curfew that has been imposed to contain the pandemic. Due to the massive surge of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai and Maharashtra, the state government on Sunday (April 4) announced ‘Break the Chain’, under which section 144 and night-curfew from 8pm to 7am on weekdays has been imposed on entire Maharashtra, including Mumbai.

The guidelines are to be implemented from Monday evening. However, the state government has allowed the IPL teams to practice beyond 8pm, provided there is ‘strict adherence to bio-bubble’. The IPL 2021 starts in Chennai on April 9.

“Considering the match-timings, teams practicing at the CCI and MCA are scheduled to practice in 2 sessions – from 4pm to 6.30pm and 7.30pm to 10pm,” wrote Srirang Gholap, Under Secretary of the Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation department, in a letter issued to the BCCI.

Mumbai is scheduled to host 10 matches of the IPL at the Wankhede Stadium and nine of them are scheduled to start at 7.30pm. The first game at the Wankhede is due on April 10 between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals.

The city recorded more than 11,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday. “…Permission has been requested for teams and the IPL staff (to) be allowed to practice inside the grounds after 8pm and they may be allowed free movement from the ground to their respective hotels after the said time.

“Accordingly, permission is being hereby accorded for the said request subject to scrupulous adherence to the bio-bubble,” stated the letter, a copy of which is in possession of news agency PTI.

Most Wankhede ground staff test COVID-19 negative

In a related development and a major relief to the Mumbai Cricket Association, it is learnt that most of the Wankhede’s 10 ground-staff members, who had earlier tested positive for the virus, have now tested negative.

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