The cream of Indian cricket arrived in the UAE on Friday as the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians all touched down in the country ahead of the Indian Premier League, which is due to start next month.
CSK’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina were all smiles as they prepared for the next stage in their careers as they landed in Dubai for the 13th edition of the competition.
Both the former India captain and veteran all-rounder announced their retirements from international cricket duties for India earlier this week, and were among the CSK members who flew in on a chartered jet.
CSK had a six-day conditioning camp between August 15 and 20 in Chennai before the flight. One bit of bad news was that senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh did not depart for Dubai with the rest of the squad due to personal reasons.
Earlier in the day, India skipper Virat Kohli was eventually united with his RCB teammates in Dubai after the team came in from Bengaluru, while their skipper was on a different flight from Mumbai.
RCB headed straight for isolation in the Waldorf Astoria and were joined by Kohli, who underwent his final testing in Mumbai before travelling on a private flight. He soon joined up with his RCB teammates and tweeted a thumbs-up picture from his hotel balcony.
An statement from the team read: “RCB team will start a three-week camp with Indian and International Players in collaboration with Director of Cricket Mike Hesson and head coach Simon Katich from August 29 onwards.”
Over in Abu Dhabi, Mumbai Indians added to the growing contingent of franchises to have made the journey to the UAE.
While the team — including star players Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah — safely disembarked in the UAE capital, news emerged that veteran Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga is likely to be unavailable for MI for the first few games due to personal reasons.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the Sri Lankan bowler did not travel with the squad as his father is ill.
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Initially scheduled to start in March, the 2020 edition of the IPL was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the 13th edition of the IPL will be played from September 19 to November 10, across three venues in the UAE — Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.