There was a lot of excitement in the air when the Indian Premier League (IPL) returned to MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. It is the same ground that gave Pakistan a standing ovation in 1999, that welcomed England in a Test match after the ill-fated 26/11 attacks in 2008 and assured the visitors of safety and guaranteed cricket. This is also the stadium that became a power centre of IPL as the home of one of its most celebrated franchises, Chennai Super Kings.
Cut to 2018, the MA Chidambaram stadium was elated for another sort of welcome. CSK were returning to Chepauk after a gap of three years. For three years, the crowd waited to see their Thala and others dressed in yellow to come out and give them a party of a lifetime.
Who knew the excitement will be cut short so soon? Protests emerged by some political groups in Tamil Nadu asking for the formation of Cauvery Water Management Board. The protests reached MA Chidambaram Stadium and amidst a lot of hooplas, the first game between CSK and Kolkata Knight Riders was made possible. And what a thrilling game we had in our hands, going into the last over and CSK coming out victorious, justifying the word 'return'.
But there would be no more IPL games this year at MA Chidambaram stadium. BCCI, on 11 April, decided to move the matches out of Chennai to Pune, citing security issues.
Having said that, let's not forget that this is not the first time that the matches have been moved out of a city in the last 10 years of IPL's existence. Listed below are all the previous occasions and reasons when the fans were left gutted.
2009: IPL moved to South Africa due to General Elections
It was only the second year of the tournament and the newly-formed Indian Premier League had to deal with a big issue in hand. The duration of IPL 2009 clashed with that of General Elections that year. The then BCCI president Shashank Manohar had made the decision to relocate the league 'because of the extraordinary situation existing'.
Clearly, the security concerns were present as a thick layer is required to make sure the electoral processes are held peacefully. Priority was picked and rightfully it was to strengthen the democracy. After many rounds of discussion and email exchanges with England Cricket Board and Cricket South Africa, IPL governing council decided to finalise South Africa as the venue. To their relief, the brand of IPL did not get a dent.
2014: General Elections returned after 5 years, IPL moved to UAE
The year 2014 was the year of General Elections and like the last time, the tournament had to move out. However, this time around, only partially. The duration of IPL was clashing with the first month of the tournament. That year IPL was held from 12 April to 1 June but due to elections, the governing council decided to shift the league to United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was a delight for the IPL fans in UAE who saw their favourite cricketers playing in front of their eyes. But the league returned to India on 13 May for the last phase.
2014: CSK and KKR lost home games and play-offs due to security issues
IPL returned to India in the month of May but not to Chennai. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had an issue going on with the local Municipal Corporation and that led to CSK playing their home games in Ranchi. The two play-offs which the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai were supposed to host also shifted to Kolkata (Eden Gardens) and Mumbai (Cricket Club of India) due to the same reason.
KKR's home game against Mumbai Indians on 14 May was also moved to Cuttack as the police had denied providing security as the elections were on in West Bengal.
2016 - Maharashtra drought moved IPL out from the state
In 2016, the state of Maharashtra was going through a water shortage and it was so severe that hosting IPL games became a matter of a headache for the authorities. A PIL filed in the Bombay High Court made the judges take a strict decision – to move the home games of Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant out of Maharashtra after 30 April, 2014. The main reason behind shifting the game was that during such a water crisis, stadiums would use plenty of water to prepare the pitches, which is not the top-most priority of the state at such a time.
BCCI made many deliberations but it was to no avail. In the end, Visakhapatnam hosted all the 13 home games of Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant. The final, which was scheduled to take place at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on 29 May was also moved to M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.