IPL - Dhoni & CSK
Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (left) with teammates Ambati Rayudu & Karn Sharma on the eve of their departure for Dubai on Friday. Image Credit: Twitter/CSK

Kolkata: It may be still more than a month away for the second phase of IPL 2021 to get underway in the UAE, but the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have landed at the UAE on Friday to get a headstart to their preparations. The 31 matches of IPL will be held across the three emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah from September 19 to October 15.

The IPL is set to return there after about 10 months since the previous edition was conducted seamlessly in the UAE due to the first phase of COVID-19 pandemic in India. Contrary to last edition when it was held behind closed doors, the decks appear to have been cleared to allow a percentage of fans at the venues following easing of some of the regulations by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) of Dubai.

Asked about the possibility of fans’ presence, Mubashir Usmani, secretary of Emirates Cricket Board, said in an interview with Gulf News earlier this month: ‘‘As hosts, ECB will work closely with the authorities to seek approval on what protocols need to be followed - this includes fan attendance, we will then discuss it with the BCCI as well as the ICC to assess their spectator requirements. We want our expat and Emirati sports loving fans in the UAE to be able to watch the action from the stands,’’

Cricket - IPL in UAE
The Mumbai Indians team bus checks into St Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi, which was their base last year as well. Image Credit: Twitter/MI

CSK shared a picture of Dhoni, the iconic CSK captain, in which the multiple World Cup winning India skipper can be seen with his suitcase as he gears up to leave for UAE. “Get ready folks!” CSK tweeted.

After having retired from international cricket on August 15 last year with a nonchalant Instagram post, Dhoni now only plays in the IPL and could be back in the UAE for what could be his possible last shot at the IPL crown.

Earlier, five-time champions Mumbai left for Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE where they had set up their base last year as well. The franchise shared a picture through its Instagram handle on Friday, showing talent scout R. Vinay Kumar in the flight with the caption as ‘Abu Dhabi bound’.


They also posted a video of off-spinner Jayant Yadav in full travel gear with caption as “Off we go! The countdown has begun.”

The franchise for the last two weeks had organised a preparatory camp for the domestic players at the Jio Stadium inside Reliance Corporate Park in Ghansoli.

In another departure from their protocol last year, the BCCI has decided to do away with contact tracing devices for the UAE leg of IPL - leaving it to the Bubble Integrity Officers to do the necessary contact tracing if any player tests positive for Covid-19 in UAE.

Holders Mumbai will resume their campaign in a blockbuster clash against Chennai Super Kings in Dubai on September 19.