Dubai: The IPL 2020 in the UAE will usher in it’s one-month countdown as the first batch of three teams - Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals jet into the country on Thursday.
The star shower will reach it’s peak when Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings, Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and four-time winners Mumbai Indians under Rohit Sharma will arrive on Friday. Delhi Daredevils will arrive on Saturday while Sunrisers Hyderabad are expected to be the last team to jet into the city on Sunday (August 23).
A high-powered delegation of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to be led by IPL chairman Brijesh Patel, will arrive on August 22. While Mumbai Indians and KKR will be based in waterfront properties in Abu Dhabi, the other six teams will be based in Dubai. Informed sources reveal that teams from the company which will implement the bio-bubble cover across the hotels (teams will be staying in separate hotels as per the BCCI guidelines) have started their recce of the hotels from Wednesday.
However, it will not be till virtually the end of the month that the teams can get down to business at the ICC Academy grounds in Dubai or the Oval grounds adjacent to the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The Who’s Who of world cricket will have no option but to quarantine themselves for six days, during which they will undergo three PCR tests on alternate days, before they receive the all-clear to join the conditioning camps.
‘‘We are following the robust testing protocols set by the BCCI. We have booked a charter for our team, management and support staff including net bowlers to take us to the UAE. Upon arrival in the UAE, we will undergo another test followed by our six-day quarantine. during which three tests will be conducted on Day 1, 3 and 6. If all three tests return negative, the members of the team will enter the bio secure environment and undergo tests every fifth day for the entire tournament,’’ remarked Jake Lush McCrum, COO of Rajasthan Royals.
Asked how will the pre-tournament camp work in the UAE, McCrum clarified: ‘‘We will start training in the UAE after our six-day quarantine. We will have roughly three and a half weeks of preparation before the IPL. All of our coaching staff will be there including our Indian players and some of our international players.
‘‘We will be building intensity through the period as we want to prevent any injuries from occurring, especially for those who’ve been completely in lockdown. A lot of our players have been able to train, which has been fantastic given the reduction of lockdown in certain areas in India. We’ll be having specific plans for each player so that they get up to full fitness in the safest manner possible,’’ he added.
The late confirmation of IPL meant that players of England and Australia, who will be locked in a white ball series in England till September 16, are certain to miss at least the first match of their respective franchises due to the quarantine formalities. This is expected to impact Royals quite a lot as four of their star overseas players: Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Jofra Archer will be involved in the series.
The Royals official chose to see the positives in this: ‘‘English and Australian players will be competing against each other in a high quality series right before the IPL - which has many positives because it’ll enable them to be at full-match fitness. They’ll be competing at the highest level before the IPL where they’ll be playing against the best players day in day out. They may miss the first match due to the protocols put in place by the BCCI but we believe the protocols are necessary to keep everyone safe.
‘‘We have an excellent and high-quality team with good depth and have the ability to have an extremely competitive team to deal with the absence of these players. Of course once these players join the squad, they will provide a huge boost to the team,’’ McCrum added.