The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Saturday discussed logistics and the emerging Covid situation with IPL franchise owners before announcing that its showcase event will start in the last week of March and run until the end of May.

With Covid cases rising in India, the BCCI hadn't yet confirmed a timeline for IPL's latest edition.

"A majority of team owners expressed their wish that the tournament be held in India," BCCI honorary secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

Shah added that the BCCI "will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that IPL stays in India... and will concurrently work on Plan B since the Covid-19 situation with new variants remains fluid".

IPL's last edition began in India but was suspended in May 2021 as cases soared and was completed later in the year in the United Arab Emirates, with Chennai Super Kings emerging as champions.

Lucknow's Rahul

India's opening batter KL Rahul will captain Lucknow after he was signed as the joint-highest-paid player, for 170 million rupees ($2.3 million), in the history of the tournament.

Former Indian captain Virat Kohli was signed for the same amount in 2018 by the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise.

"I have been very impressed by KL's not only batting and wicketkeeping abilities, but his leadership skills," Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka told Star Sports.

Ahmedabad, which was purchased by global private equity giants CVC capital, announced Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the new team's skipper.

The franchise also signed Afghanistan's star leg-spinner Rashid Khan for 150 million rupees ($2.1 million) and young Indian batter Shubman Gill for 80 million rupees.

Gary Kirsten, former South African batter and mentor for the Ahmedabad franchise, said that it was an opportunity for Hardik as "a young and new captain".

"I think he will be really motivated to come in and make a plan and show what he is capable of at this level of the game as a leader," Kirsten said.

Indian cricket board in a statement late Saturday said that it was limiting the upcoming home series against West Indies "to two venues instead of six originally announced."

It "has been done to mitigate biosecurity risks by cutting down on travel and movement of the teams, match officials, broadcasters, and other stakeholders," the BCCI said.

West Indies will now play three ODIs -- on February 6, February 9 and February 11 -- against the hosts in western India's Ahmedabad city before travelling to eastern Kolkata for three T20s on February 16th, 18th and 20th.

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