Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings arrives in Dubai
Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians also reach the UAE; Rajasthan Royals squad completes first round of testing
Chennai Super Kings (CSK), along with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and defending champion Mumbai Indians (MI), arrived in the UAE on Friday for the glamorous T20 league, beginning on September 19.
All three teams posted their departure photos on social media. The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Super Kings had held a brief training camp in Chennai before flying out and was the only team to do so.
RCB skipper Virat Kohli, who made his own arrangements to reach Dubai directly from Mumbai following all BCCI SOP, also posted a photo from the team hotel after touching down.
Both CSK and RCB are based out of Dubai while the Rohit Sharma-captained MI is camping in Abu Dhabi. The players are not allowed to venture out of their rooms during the six-day isolation period.
The players, who were already tested multiple times before departure, will now undergo a six-day isolation period with testing on day 1, 3 and 6. If they clear all the tests, they will be eligible to enter the tournament’s biobubble and start training.
Subsequently, the players and support staff will be tested every fifth day of the tournament.
On Thursday, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders became the first set of teams to arrive in the UAE. Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals will land over the weekend.
While the Royals’ squad completed its day 1 testing as per BCCI’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) at the airport itself, KXIP went for a repeat test on Friday.
The Royals have demarcated the outdoor area which a player cannot use if his next door teammate too is outside. KXIP players can also talk to their immediate neighbour while using the balcony.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik said lack of extensive training would be a factor in the IPL but the players would give their “all” to make fans proud.
“We haven’t played or trained extensively for the last few months. The road ahead may be full of obstacles, but we promise to give it our all. It will be a challenge, playing cricket in these trying circumstances. But, we understand that when we play the game, we bring happiness to our fans,” Karthik was quoted as saying on the KKR website.
KKR would miss the crowd support at its home ground — Eden Gardens — but Karthik said every player would carry the iconic venue in their hearts while playing in the UAE.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav admitted the lockdown had taken a toll on him. “Initially, it was very tough to adjust because we were unable to practise outdoors. But I am ready now. In fact, I can’t wait to get back in action,” said Kuldeep.
Top-order batsman Shubman Gill was equally pumped up.
“I think we all are really desperate (to play) because for a long time we have only been prepping mentally,” he said.
Pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna stressed on how important the next few weeks were going to be.
“It won’t be an easy year. Playing cricket after being locked up in the house for over five months is going to be quite a different experience,” Prasidh said.
“The last four-five months at home have really taught me how important cricket is for me,” Warrier stated.
Nagarkoti, who missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to injuries, is also raring to go.