Caption Rajasthan Royals players attend a team huddle during a training session in Dubai. Courtesy Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, who arrived in the UAE last Thursday, finally burst out of their cocoons into their natural habitat and hit the nets at the ICC Academy in Dubai after serving a mandatory quarantine period of six days.
The 13th edition has been shifted to the UAE in the wake of the pandemic and teams had to complete a quarantine period of six days as a part of safety protocols.
Punjab captain KL Rahul expressed his delight on hitting the turf after a period of almost five months.
Rahul said: “It feels very good to be back on the ground. We have been at home for so long and just getting a chance to be out in the middle with the team feels very very good.”
Due to the pandemic, all cricketing action in India ground to a halt. Even the IPL, which was to be held in March was postponed indefinitely.
It was only after the cancellation of the World T20, which was supposed to be held in Australia in October, that BCCI decide to host the IPL in the UAE.
This was the only window that was remaining for the IPL. Australia expressed its inability to host World T20 in the times of coronavirus.
“Conditions are very hot. Ideally, I would love to bat with temperature much cooler but we are happy that we came outdoors and practised and did what we love the most,” added Rahul.
“The team is in great spirits and everybody is excited to be out and play cricket. We are looking forward to the next two three months full of action.
“For me as a captain, is to make sure the boys get enough training time and their roles and responsibilities are clear to them,” he informed via a video posted on the team’s official Twitter account.
The teams have arrived in the UAE one month well in advance so that they can follow the safety procedures and get acclimatize to the conditions here.
“They can practise their roles and come game time it is about going out and expressing themselves and enjoying whatever challenge comes to them,” said Rahul of the boys.
Karun Nayar, who is the mainstay of the Punjab batting line-up, said: “We have waited for months. It was tough. It was difficult but we all kept hanging as a family and I am glad the moment that we have waited for long is finally here. The things have returned to the turf and there is no stopping now.”
It was also a kind of celebration in the Royals camp. As their quarantine period also got over and they also flexed their muscles after a long unending wait.
Although the teams were seen following a strict safety protocol in their bio-secure bubble. All the players were wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
Senior players in the team like Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson motivated the boys with some pep talk. There are a few boys in the team, who are playing for the first time.
And there could have not been a better way to kick-start a campaign than listening to those who have lived the moment of glory and soaked into it. The players looked excited. They are waiting for the real action to begin soon.
Romi Bhinder, the manager of the team, said: “It is big responsibility on all of us. It is very different IPL because of the social distancing and health protocols. There are checkposts everywhere.
“We are making use of all the safety gear and travelling in PPE kits. Royals were the only team who got four tests done instead of two before travelling to the UAE,” he added.
“We are even taking care of the of masks, which have to be worn, like its layering. It is very different and a big responsibility on all of us,” he concluded.
Royals won the first edition of the IPL in 2008 under the captaincy of Shane Warne when the tournament was incepted for the first time.
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