Mumbai face Knight Riders in opener

Cricket Indian Premier League

Holders Mumbai Indians will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the first match of IPL 7 in Abu Dhabi on April 16, the organisers stated on Wednesday, indicating that the second leg could return to India in the first week of May itself, with many state governments indicating their willingness to host matches once elections are over in their region.

Schedule for the first phase of the tournament was announced by the IPL Governing Council after a meeting here. The first phase of the tournament from April 16-30, comprising 20 matches , had already been allotted to United Arab Emirates due to general elections in India. Bangladesh was kept as a standby for matches from May 1 to 12 before tournament returned to India for the final phase, including the playoffs and the final.

The elections are set to be conducted from April 7 to May 12 in nine phases. However, the organisers claimed that state governments want to host matches once polling for general elections is completed in their areas.

“Pursuant to the initiative taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, many State Governments have indicated that IPL matches can be conducted in their respective states,” BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said. “Based on the responses received so far, the BCCI believes that the Pepsi IPL 2014 can be conducted in India from the first week of May,” he added.

In the UAE leg, 20 matches will be played in 3 stadiums — Sheikh Zayed Stadium-Abu Dhabi, Sharjah CA Stadium and Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Each team will play five matches in UAE. This is the second time the event has had to be forced out of the country due to elections. In 2009, the entire tournament had to be shifted to South Africa, a country which was in contention to host the event even this time.

Due to the lesser number of teams, the duration of the league has also been shortened this time to 47 days and 60 matches -- much less than the 76 games played last season which was spread over 54 days.

The schedule of the second and third phase of the tournament will be released later. 

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