Dubai: Dishant Yagnik, the fielding coach of Rajasthan Royals who beat an attack of COVID-19, simply cannot wait to hit those towering catches or put Robin Uthappa & Co through the fielding drills once his quarantine period ends in the team hotel here on September 4.
‘‘I am really looking forward to meet the teammates. The last time I had camps with them were in Guwahati and Nagpur in March before the Indian Premier League (IPL) was postponed due to the lockdown. I want to see in what shape the players are... want to hit some towering catches for them and conduct fielding drills,’’ said a buoyant Yagnik, who tested positive for COVID-19 in India on the eve of team's departure and flew in to join them here two days ago after complete recovery.
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A former wicketkeeper with Royals, the 37-year-old ex-first class cricketer caused a scare in the Royals camp in the the third week of August when he tested positive for the virus and had go in isolation. He was admitted to Gitanjali Medical College in Udaipur for the first seven days and went through the drill of staying in isolation for 14 days, then had two negative tests to show for before being given the green signal for international travel.
Speaking to Gulf News from his hotel room, Yagnik said his experience was more a test of ‘‘mental strength’’ and had a message for the readers. ‘‘Dont get paranoid about it as anyone of us can get the virus anytime. Everyone of us connected with IPL has to follow the protocol set by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and I feel that at the end of the day, the tournament will be a big hit.’’
How tough was it mentally when the test report declared him as positive, and that too on the eve of travel? ‘‘It’s not that tough as I was an symptomatic case throughout. The Royals management stood behind me and the family and advised me on what would be the next step. However, I missed out on all the fun on travelling with the team,’’ he said.
‘‘However, the waiting game bothers you a lot and you have to keep the mental strength during the phase in isolation,’’ he said.
Speaking to the media a few days back, Mohammad Kaif, assistant coach of Delhi Capitals and a supremely athletic fielder during his playing days, was apprehensive that the players’ reflexes may take a beating after being out of active cricket for more than five months. Asked about his take on the issue, Yagnik said: ‘‘Yes, reflexes may be affected. However, over the five months, I had been in touch with the Royals boys and gave them some drills with tennis balls ...it will be interesting to see how they shape up in the coming days.’’