Kolkata: Now that Shreyas Iyer is back from his shoulder surgery, the Delhi Capitals management are clearly in a dilemma about whom to name as their captain - him or Rishabh Pant - for the remaining part of the IPL to be held in the UAE next month. The Indian players of Capitals, runners-up last year, flew into Dubai on Saturday.
The dilemma over the choice of captain, a high pressure job in IPL, is understandable as Pant - who was thrust into the job after Iyer’s injury during the white ball series against England at home - guided the team to a fine start as they were the table-toppers with six wins from eight games when the league was suspended in early May due to positive cases of COVID-19 among the camps. The dashing wicketkeeper-batsman, who is now India’s first choice stumper in all formats, is in England for the ongoing Test series.
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Iyer, on the other hand, showed he was captaincy material ever since he was jettisoned in the role midway in the 2018 season when veteran Gautam Gambhir stepped down due to indifferent form. Rallying a new-look and rebranded team around him from 2019 which had a number of senior players, the 26-year-old Mumbai batsman developed his own style of leadership - guiding the Capitals into play-offs after a prolonged drought and then finishing runners-up to Mumbai Indians to the UAE last year.
‘‘We will decide on the captaincy closer to the season,’’ a Capitals spokesperson said before their departure for Dubai. The team management, however, is in no hurry as they are spoilt for choice between two of the finest young cricketers of the country with leadership qualities. Iyer, meanwhile, is already in the UAE with a fitness coach and chances are the franchise would like to have a buy-in from head coach Ricky Ponting about his fitness and form before arriving at a decision.
“I don’t know about the captaincy, it’s in the hands of the owners. But the team has already been doing well and we are on top and that’s what really matters to me. My main aim and goal to lift the trophy which Delhi has never done before,” Iyer had said in July in an interview.
Delhi Capitals, like Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai who had arrived before them, will be in quarantine for a week before getting down to practice sessions to acclimatise with the heat and humidity of the Gulf venue.
The 14th season will resume on September 19 in Dubai with a blockbuster clash between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians. The action will then shift to Abu Dhabi where Kolkata Knight Riders will square off against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Sharjah will host its first game on September 24 when Royal Challengers Bangalore take on Chennai Super Kings. In all, 13 matches will be held in Dubai, 10 in Sharjah, and 8 in Abu Dhabi.
The BCCI has this year decided to do away with contact tracing devices for the UAE leg, as the Bubble Integrity Officers will do the necessary contact tracing if any player tests positive for COVID-19 in UAE.
The board has, however, come up with a 46-page health advisory that lays down all the pointers that everyone associated with the IPL needs to follow in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the league.