Quinton de Kock had been a rock of Mumbai Indians' successful campaign in IPL last year. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Defending champions Mumbai Indians’ preparations for 13th Indian Premier League in the UAE received a significant boost when Quinton de Kock made a sparkling first appearance at the Zayed Cricket Stadium nets in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“Look who’s hit the nets in Abu Dhabi! Welcome back, @QuinnyDeKock69,’ the Mumbai Indians posted on their twitter account. The South African skipper and 2017 Cricketer of the Year at Cricket South Africa’s Annual Awards who is widely regarded as one of the world’s premier wicket-keeper batsmen looked in good nick as he handed out some punishment to the net bowlers with his broad blade.

De Kock, who successfully completed his mandatory quarantine period in the team hotel, looked in sync at the Zayed Stadium, ahead of the IPL series which they have won a record four times in (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019).

The left-hander was the highest run-scorer for MI in their victorious campaign last season where he rattled up 529 runs in the tournament which included four half-centuries.

The 27-year-old from Johannesburg, who has previously played for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, Delhi Capitals (former Daredevils) and Royal Challengers in the IPL, enjoyed a memorable first season for Mumbai in 2019 where he played some crucial knocks throughout the tournament to help the team beat Chennai Super Kings in the final.

The 2017 South African Men’s Cricketer Of The Year may not have played a lot of cricket since the pandemic hit in March this year, but he looked as sharp as nails with a solid display at the Zayed Stadium nets, the first for the squad.

Despite the temperature rising to 38-degree Celsius the MI players seemed focused and appeared to be thrilled at getting their first feel of the UAE.

Saurabh Tiwary, a mainstay with the team since 2008 and who was at the training facility, said “The temperature is quite high so it will take time to adjust but it is too hot. This is my first experience playing under such conditions.”

The cricketers followed their normal warm-up routine before hitting the nets where the Indian domestic batting trio of Anmolpreet Singh, Suryakumar Yadav and Aditya Tare were the first ones to pad up with action happening across four nets.