Last year's Indian Premier League was staged in the United Arab Emirates due to the coronavirus pandemic ©Getty Images

The Indian Premier League (IPL) is set to return to India next month, but the opening matches are due to be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After last year’s IPL was moved to the United Arab Emirates as a result of the global health crisis, organisers in India have put in place measures to ensure the safe staging of the world’s biggest franchise cricket tournament.

Chennai is set to host the first match between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 9.

Ahmedabad’s 110,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket ground, has been selected to host the playoffs, as well as the final, scheduled to be held on May 30.

All the matches will be played at neutral venues with Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata also in line to play host.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed games will initially take place without spectators but is expected to make a call on whether to permit fans at a later stage in the tournament.

Matches will be played at neutral venues with no fans permitted ©Getty Images
Matches will be played at neutral venues with no fans permitted ©Getty Images

Each team will also only travel three times during the opening stage in a bid to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Organisers will hope to avoid following in the footsteps of the Pakistan Super League which was postponed after an outbreak of COVID-19.

Six players including England batsman Tom Banton tested positive for coronavirus along with one member of support staff.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the situation had become "beyond the reasonable control of all stakeholders".

"Players were very nervous, anxious and apprehensive," said Wasim Khan, chief executive for the PCB in a report by BBC Sport.

"The franchises felt very uncomfortable, as we did, to put the players under any additional risk when there’s no need to do it."

A total of 14 of the scheduled 34 matches had been completed and Khan is hopeful of finishing the tournament later this year.

Crowd capacity was capped at 20 per cent when the competition started on February 20 and there were plans to increase it to 50 per cent before the COVID-19 outbreak.