Security shadow forces IPL out of India

Mumbai: The hugely popular Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) will be played outside the country because state governments have expressed their inability to provide security to the tournament as it clashes with general elections, India's cricket board announced today. There was no word on the new venue, but speculation is that the tournament could take place in England or South Africa.

The Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) took the decision at an emergency meeting after days of speculation about the second edition of the tournament that was originally set to take place April 10 to May 23 before the Lok Sabha elections were announced in April-May.

The BCCI frantically changed the IPL schedule thrice to meet security concerns and eventually decided to move it outside India after the government of Maharashtra, where a chunk of the matches were to be held, said no security could be provided during the elections.

A visibly disappointed BCCI president Shashank Manohar told a news conference that the board was in consultation with cricket boards of other countries and would come out with a detailed itinerary soon.

"Many cricket boards have expressed their interest (in hosting IPL) and we are in talks with them," Manohar said. He persistently refused to answer queries from journalists on the possible venue, saying the media was free to speculate.

The BCCI subsequently conveyed its decision to owners of teams taking part in the IPL, which draws players from the cricketing world.

Manohar said it was forced to take the decision because the authorities failed to give an assurance about providing security to the tournament, whose first edition last year was a huge hit among fans and players. "Earlier the governments of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh had said they have no problems in holding IPL matches.

But yesterday they said they are not in a position to provide security till the elections (get over). "We have been forced to move IPL outside India because of the attitude of the government, especially the Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh governments," he said According to Manohar and IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, there would be no changes in the timings of the matches irrespective of where they are played.

The matches were to originally take place at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. IST. Security for the IPL became a major issue after Pakistani terrorists slaughtered over 170 people in Mumbai in November 2008 and after terrorists audaciously attacked Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore in March.

According to the government, police and paramilitary forces would be bogged down across India during the staggered Lok Sabha elections starting April 16 and ending May 13. The votes will be counted May 16