With the IPL finally due to start from September 19, the Delhi Capitals side assembled in Mumbai on Thursday before the squad departs for the UAE. And, according to a PTI report, three other teams – Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders – have already reached Dubai as the T20 tournament continues to gather steam.
The Capitals players arrived in batches, keeping in mind the safety protocols against Covid-19. Led by their captain Shreyas Iyer, the others who landed were Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw.
Despite being away from the game for more than five months, Rahane – who is a part of the Capitals for the first time – wanted to ensure the side was “very positive” after the time out.
“There is no doubt that it will be a challenging trip for everyone involved,” he said. “But like everyone else, I’ve spent these last few months focusing on my physical and mental health, and taking care of my family. So the time I’ve managed to spend with them has put me in a positive frame of mind. However, this IPL will be a very different experience for all of us, and we need to make sure that we are all very positive when we hit the ground running. The key is to take one step at a time.”
Young opening batsman Shaw, who hit 99 in a tied game against the Kolkata Knight Riders last season, was looking forward to gelling with his team-mates and utilising the training sessions available in the UAE.
“We know people have a lot of expectations from us, but our focus will be on making the most of the training sessions we get in the UAE, and re-creating that fantastic team environment which made us so successful last year,” he said. “We also have the chance to gel with the new players and then set our sights on the IPL season.”
The Kings XI, KKR and Royals players, who were already tested multiple times before departure, will now undergo a six-day isolation period with testing on day 1, 3 and 6. If they clear all the tests, they will be eligible to enter the tournament’s bio-bubble and start training.
Subsequently, the players and support staff will be tested every fifth day of the tournament