The Indian cricket board is exploring the possibility of holding the remaining 31 matches of the IPL after the World T20 in October-November following its decision to put the ongoing T20 tournament on hold due to a string of Covid cases, The Indian Express has learnt.

The decision to indefinitely postpone the IPL was announced by the BCCI after Sunrisers Hyderabad wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi Capitals spinner Amit Mishra Tuesday became the latest to test positive following two players of Kolkata Knight Riders and two non-playing staff of Chennai Super Kings.

“We are looking to conduct the remaining IPL matches after we host the World T20 in October-November. If all goes well, we will host both the World T20 and the remainder of the IPL in India. The UAE is also an option,” a top BCCI official told The Indian Express.

“We are looking for another window, but at the moment we can’t say when it would be rescheduled,” IPL Governing Council chairman Brijesh Patel said.

After the Covid outbreak last year, the IPL was held in September in the UAE. This time, the tournament was confined to four cities in India, and 29 matches had been held across four weeks with the final to have been played on May 30.

On Monday, Kolkata spinner Varun Chakravarthy and medium pacer Sandeep Warrier tested positive, forcing the postponement of their game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Chennai Super Kings chief executive Kasi Viswanathan and bowling coach Laxmipathy Balaji, too, tested positive — Viswanathan’s second test returned negative. Chennai officially conveyed its inability to play Wednesday’s game against Rajasthan Royals.

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“The Indian Premier League Governing Council (IPL GC) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,” stated an IPL press release.

“The BCCI does not want to compromise on the safety of the players, support staff and the other participants involved in organising the IPL. This decision was taken keeping the safety, health and well-being of all the stakeholders in mind,” it said.

Patel said the BCCI would help the franchises arrange for the return of their foreign players. Those who have contracted Covid, and other players and support staff, have to follow the tournament’s quarantine protocols — six days isolation for close contacts and three negative tests before leaving.

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“Franchises will take a call on their departures, while the BCCI will provide the necessary support,” Patel said.

“We stand by our word that for us IPL is not complete until our players and the officials reach their homes safely. We are working on that and in two days we will come out with a detailed plan,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said.

Last week, the Australian government had banned all travellers from India, including Australian citizens, from entering the country until May 15. BCCI officials said the 14 Australian cricketers in the IPL are expected to get a safe passage home after May 15.

“CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia,” Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association said in a joint statement.

In the UK, The Times reported that the England and Wales Cricket Board would provide assistance to 11 England players in the IPL to return home.

Cricket South Africa (CSA), along with the South African Cricketers Association (SACA), is in touch with the South African cricketers in the IPL. “CSA…has made contact with all of the relevant franchises to ensure the expedited travel of all South African players and support staff back to our shores. Those travelling back to South Africa will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organization recommendations,” CSA said in a statement.