Dubai: Dinesh Karthik, captain of Kolkata Knight Riders, said it will be a different Indian Premier League (IPL) this year but his boys will strive their best to bring happiness to their legion of fans back in India and worldwide. The two-time champions, who landed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night, are staying at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and will be based in the UAE capital.
“This IPL will be different. What has happened in the world has pained us deeply and it is surely a challenge to play cricket. But we understand that when we play the game, we bring happiness to our fans. Yes, there will be a bio bubble. Yes, we haven’t played or trained extensively for the last few months. Yes, the road ahead may be full of obstacles but we promise to give it all,” said Karthik.
The team co-owned by Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan, will be looking for a turnaround of fortunes after an indifferent campaign last season and can take heart from the fact that the last time a leg of IPL was played in the UAE in 2014, they eventually ended up as champions.
This year, Eden Gardens, the ‘home’ of the Knights won’t see any live action alright, but Karthik believes that every player will keep Eden in their hearts while playing in the UAE.
“At KKR, we do our best to bring Joy to the city of joy,” the skipper said. “We may not be playing this year at our home Eden Gardens, but it is where our heart is. As we embark on our journey in the UAE, with slight nervousness and immense enthusiasm, we seek your (fans’) blessings. You pray for us, we will play for you.”
We may not be playing this year at our home Eden Gardens, but it is where our heart is. As we embark on our journey in the UAE, with slight nervousness and immense enthusiasm, we seek your (fans’) blessings. You pray for us, we will play for you
Kuldeep Yadav, the left-arm wrist spinner and a regular in the Indian squad, admitted the lockdown had taken a toll on cricketers. “Initially, it was very tough to adjust when the lockdown was imposed, because we were unable to practice outdoors. But I am completely ready now. In fact, I will be happy if there is a match in the next 7 days! I can’t wait to get back in action,”
Shubman Gill, KKR’s young batting star at only 20 years of age, was equally keen to get back on the field. “I think we all are really desperate (to play) because for a long time, we were in our houses and we have only been prepping mentally. We all are really excited. I’m very excited to go out there and express myself,” he said.
Indian pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna stressed on how important the next few weeks were going to be for them to get back in the groove for the season.
“It won’t be an easy year. Playing cricket after being locked up in the house for over five months is going to be quite a different experience. The players will have to be inside a bio bubble throughout the tournament - which means they can’t step out beyond designated zones, nor they can come in touch with outsiders. Even as friends, we have to maintain distance. No hugging, no high fives,” said Prasidh.
The IPL gets underway on September 19, with the detailed fixtures yet to be announced.