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South Africa moves quickly to become preferred IPL venue
NEW DELHI: While uncertainty over the offshore venue of this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) continues, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the government there have moved swiftly and taken steps to host the Twenty20 championship, according to sources in the IPL management.

CSA has showed more intent in clearing the decks and hosting the event, which is scheduled to start less than three weeks from now, an IPL source said on Tuesday.

CSA has got in touch with the South African government and intimated them of the urgent requirements to host the event. They are very keen on hosting IPL, the source added.

In a late night development on Monday, IPL chairman Lalit Modi flew to South Africa to "assess venues and the logistics", cancelling his planned trip to London. He will visit London in the next 24 hours before taking a final call.

"CSA Chief Executive Officer Gerald Majola will meet the IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi this afternoon to discuss IPL hosting issues," CSA said in a statement on Tuesday.

The possibility of a rainy spring has become a major obstacle in hosting the event in England. Modi admitted that the big worry in England was the threat of rain disrupting matches.

Manoj Badale, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals - the team that won the inaugural IPL championship last year - said South Africa is the preferred destination.

"Certainly based on the conversations I have had, if it goes outside India you'd have to suggest South Africa is the likeliest venue," Badale was quoted as saying by BBC sports.

Badale, who lives in west London, said moving the tournament to England would be a risk because of the weather.

"April is the start of the cricket season - it's cold and it's not a prime-time cricket-watching part of the season. People aren't yet on holiday and people haven't really tuned into the cricket mentality."

CSA has already told various provincial unions around South Africa to keep their venues in prime condition to host one of the eight teams.

Former South Africa international and Mumbai Indians player Shaun Pollock said his country has emerged as the favourite destination.

"I think it's all of a sudden become the favourite," Pollock said.

"The advantage for us is that all our domestic cricket is finished and the stadiums are pretty vacant, and all the facilities are available to be used.

"The weather's also pretty good and I think the timeframe of the viewing will fit in nicely to the Indian schedule. So there's a lot of things going for it."

Apart from the rain, broadcasting can be another problem for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

IPL will overlap with England's domestic series and the Test and ODI series between England and West Indies, the telecast rights of which are with Sky Sports. Its rival Setanta has the overseas IPL rights, which will bring the two into direct confrontation.

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