The IPL schedule allows very little breathing space to the teams with 59 matches in five weeks across eight venues in South Africa, starting from April 18. But now that the scheduling is out of the way and preparations are on in full swing, the excitement is sure to build up. Durban was the place where Yuvraj Singh slammed Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over in the Twenty20 World Championship in 2007. According to the IPL schedule, Durban will host 16 of the 59 matches, it’s sizeable Indian population and coastal weather possibly being the clinching factors.
Centurion Park in Pretoria will host 12 games. Johannesburg and Cape Town will stage eight matches each. Port Elizabeth will have seven games. East London will host four and two matches each have been given to Bloemfontein and Kimberley. “It’s a fantastic thing for South Africa. Not only South African cricket, I think it’s going to provide us with new opportunities and a massive opportunity to showcase another event just before 2010” said South African skipper Graeme Smith.
Smith will be an even more important member of the Rajasthan Royals now, with his knowledge of the local conditions coming in handy as they seek to defend their title. Other teams such as Bangalore Royal Challengers, who had a dismal run last year think the move may actually work in their favour. They have five South African players in their squad and their new captain Kevin Pietersen is also of South African origin.
And even as preparations kick into full throttle, there is the small matter of a T20 and one-day series between Australia and South Africa to complete. Some fear that contest may be overshadowed, although the players involved aren’t worried. “Moving the event here I think has been a really positive move for the whole tournament. And I think it will actually have a great impact maybe even on just what happened with our two games on Friday and Sunday and the one-day series after that”.So now we know the dates and the venues. All we await now is for the games to begin.