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IPL cricket season will be shortened, says Ganguly

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Mumbai (AFP)

India's cricket board chief Sourav Ganguly said Saturday the Indian Premier League will be truncated with the Twenty20 tournament pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world's richest cricket league was postponed Friday, meaning instead of starting on March 29, it will begin on April 15 at the earliest after the Indian government ordered measures against travel and public gatherings.

Top officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) met franchise owners of the eight IPL teams in Mumbai to assess the situation.

"Safety is most important for the players and at the moment (with) what's going around in the world and India with the government directives this is all we can do. We have postponed remaining domestic matches," Ganguly told reporters.

"If it (IPL) is (postponed till) April 15, then, in any case 15 days are gone, it has to be a truncated one. How truncated, how many games, I can't say at the moment."

While the country of 1.3 billion has reported just two deaths from coronavirus and more than 80 confirmed cases, all sporting activities have been suspended.

India has stopped all domestic soccer and cricket events after two remaining one-day cricket internationals against a visiting South Africa side were called off on Friday.

But postponing the cash-rich IPL, which draws the world's top players from Australia, England and South Africa, and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year, has dominated Indian headlines.

Ganguly, one of India's most successful India captains who became BCCI president last year, said everyone was forced to wait and see.

"We met with the owners, to tell them how it can happen and where do we stand at the moment. At the moment, it is just postponed. We will assess the situation," said Ganguly.

"It will be re-assessed every week. I can't say at the moment (about any deadline). It has to be worked around. As much as we want to host the IPL, we also need to be careful about the security."

IPL is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy and involves cricket's top international stars including England's Ben Stokes, David Warner of Australia and Indian captain Virat Kohli.

Chinese mobile-maker Vivo paid $330 million to be the league's top sponsor for 2018-2022.

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