Siddarth Kaul on the balcony of his hotel room in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Amid rising COVID-19 cases in India and the subsequent shifting of Indian Premier League (IPL) to Dubai this year, one player from the Sunrisers Hyderabad is really happy.

Right-arm medium pacer Siddarth Kaul said he feels safe as a cricketer to be playing in Dubai, a city that has done much to keep its citizens, residents and visitors safe against the virus.

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Sunrisers are an IPL franchise team based in Hyderabad, Telangana. The franchise are owned by Kalanithi Maran of the Sun TV Network and was founded in 2012 after the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers were terminated by the IPL.

“The UAE has done much for its people in terms of containing the spread of the virus — whether it is conducting regular COVID-19 tests or laying down stringent rules and regulations,” said Kaul.

Kaul, 30, who has been with other IPL teams such as Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, said the cricketers are being looked after really well. “We are staying in a bubble and I am really happy the way we are being looked after at the hotel. Being in the bubble has been good for us as we have a responsibility to the team, the game of cricket and our fans. We are all respecting this.” He and his team have put up at the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad bowler Siddarth Kaul with his family. Image Credit: Supplied

Kaul — who started his cricketing career in 1996 under the influence of his father, Dr. Tej Kaul, a former physiotherapist for the national Indian cricket team — said the UAE was the right choice to host the IPL as it is one of the safest places in the world to be in amid a pandemic. “Internationally, there is a whole lot of faith in the UAE when it comes to its values and practices to protects its people and visitors into the country against the coronavirus.”

Kaul said Sunrisers are not allowed to go out of their rooms unless they are meeting co-players in a team room, following strict social distancing rules. There is a dedicated recreation room with indoor board games. Part of a private beach has been cordoned off for the team’s use. “Besides, we all meet at the ground for practice sessions,” he said.

Favourite hotspots in Dubai

Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are Kaul’s favourite places to visit when in Dubai. “I have made several visits to Dubai and these two are my hotspots. I have shopped in these malls a number of times.”

The story behind his headband?

“A guru who I admire, and one who taught me many things in life, told me that I should wear this. So I started wearing it and it started getting lucky for me. I started in domestic cricket with a white band. It clicked, and then he told me I should wear a red band,” said Kaul.

The cricketer said he is not a fussy eater. But when it comes to his favourite dish, he said it is his mother’s home-cooked meal that goes down best for him. “I miss her rajma chaval and rogan josh or rogan gosht — an aromatic curried meat dish. My father is Punjabi and mother is Kashmiri and her biryani is the best that I have eaten. Having said that, I am enjoying the food at the hotel here too. I am not one to complain about food. I think people in general should be grateful for their meal every day. I am too. If there is a little salt missing, I don’t really notice it so much.”

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Kaul works out during a training session. Image Credit: Supplied

“I cannot wait for the tournament to begin. I know I will do well,” said a confident Kaul.

The bio-secure IPL begins on September 19. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will face Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the T20 event in Abu Dhabi at 6pm.