Dubai: A significant plus for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE - despite all it’s challenges - is that cricketers will recover faster between matches due to the lack of logistics of air travel, according to Mohammad Kaif, assistant coach of Delhi Capitals.
‘‘A major difference between the previous edition of IPLs in India and here is that we will not be travelling a lot. In India, you are always travelling across the country, waiting at the airports, hotels etc...while here the grounds are not very far and the players are coming back to the same hotel. I feel the recovery for the next game will be faster,’’ said Kaif, the former Indian middle order batsman and a hero of India’s Natwest Trophy triumph in 2002.
The rebranded Delhi franchise, which turned the corner last season by making the play-offs after quite a long gap, has acquired more depth this time around with the inclusion of the two former IPL captains in Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin, not to speak of the overseas recruitments like Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Alex Carey among others. The Indian members of Delhi team, who will be completing their six-day quarantine on Friday and have had a third round of testing, may hit the practice sessions anytime over the next two days.
Speaking via a zoom interaction with a section of the media, Kaif agreed that it will be an ‘‘extremely demanding tournament’’ - both mentally and physically for the players to come out of a situation where most have not touched a bat over nearly last five months. ‘‘However, players don’t lose their skills so easily. There are still nearly three weeks to go for the tournament to begin and they will get back into form soon,’’ he said.
One of the best fielders in the Indian team during his time, whose lightning quick reflexes often evoked comparisons with the former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, Kaif felt the standard of fielding can make a difference between teams this season. ‘‘Yes, the quality of reflexes may have suffered a bit for the players during this lockdown and it’s going to make a big difference, at least in the intial stages of the tournament,’’ he said.
The boys are raring to go after the required period of quarantine, but it will be our job to ensure that they don’t get over-excited. We would like them to peak at the right time
Asked about the qualities that Shreyas Iyer brings to the table as captain, Kaif showered praise on the youngest captain in the IPL. ‘‘I am very happy with his journey as a captain. With all the international experience that he had in 2019 when he cemented hisi place as the No.4 batsman, I think he will do an even better job this year. He brings a certain calmness as captain and is a very nice character,’’ said Kaif, who will be assisting Head Coach Ricky Ponting.
Kaif, however, felt the with the abundance of talent in the squad, the team management will have a welcome ‘‘headache’’ to choose from during the 53-day tournament. ‘‘Shreyas will have plenty of options to choose from,’’ Kaif said.
Finally, how is he looking to cope with the heat and humidity of the UAE when they eventually get down to practice? ‘‘The boys are raring to go after the required period of quarantine, but it will be our job to ensure that they don’t get over-excited. We would like them to peak at the right time,’’ he signed off.