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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken a decision to hold the first half of the popular IPL 7 T20 cricket tournament in the UAE, according to a report.

The report confirms an Emirates 24|7 report that said that the UAE was the top contenders to host the first half of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League T20 tournament that begins next month. Read: UAE emerges as the front-runner to host IPL 7 next month

“The BCCI has got a security clearance from the Union Home Ministry to hold the IPL matches in India after May 12 (the last day of voting). As a result, around 60 per cent of the matches would be played in UAE,” a BCCI source told Mid-Day.

The Board source revealed that three centres in the UAE would hold the IPL matches. “The BCCI has finalised Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi as the three venues,” the source told the daily.

The BCCI top brass reportedly took the decision yesterday to shift the first half of the IPL matches to UAE, which also recently hosted the ICC U-19 World Cup. While organisers were considering both the UAE and South Africa as potential venues for hosting IPL 7 while India goes to poll, the UAE was selected after South Africa wanted to hold the full tournament.

India’s general elections are scheduled to be held in nine phases between April 7 and May 12. Counting of votes would take place on May 16.

IPL7 is scheduled to start on April 9 and run until June 3. BCCI has said that it will hold the remaining matches after May 16 in India.

Bangladesh, which will host the World T20 later this month, was the other venue in fray, but UAE, who recently hosted the U-19 World Cup, emerged the preferred option.

UAE cricket officials were excited by the new but were awaiting official confirmation from the BCCI.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed,” said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It will be a big boost for UAE cricket. UAE is more accessible to cricket fans from India and certainly more cost effective in comparison to other countries,” he added.

The UAE, which also has the game’s headquarters situated in Dubai, successfully staged the ICC World T20 qualifiers and more recently the ICC Under 19 World Cup.

It has three main stadiums in different cities, which are easily accessible to cricket fans.

Sharjah Cricket holds Guinness Record for staging the most number of one-day internationals. Dubai has the ‘Ring of Fire’ while Abu Dhabi has the quaint Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Dubai has also been a popular destination for Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan who own Kolkata Knight Riders.

Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty are also co-owners of IPL teams Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals.

South Africa was ruled out as Cricket South Africa wanted to stage the entire tournament, it has been reported.

Another source said the South African market is dominated by Coca-Cola, a rival to Pepsi, which is the title sponsor of IPL.

However, the business end of the IPL will be held in India.

“We can hold matches after May 16. The IPL chairman and BCCI president N Srinivasan also met defence ministry officials. We will get enough security after the elections are over,” another source added.

-Emirates 24/7