IPL 2020: IPL's new home in a new normal
Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders jetted into the UAE on Thursday with other teams following suit over the next few days.
There was a flurry of masked men, some suited up in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) overalls, who flew into the UAE on Thursday.
Identifying most of them would have been an exercise in futility, except perhaps, for some well-known names. But what made them stand out were the masks themselves and their clothing, that had the team's colours and logos.
And no prizes for guessing who they were. The first set of players touched down on Thursday, for what is set to be a very different Indian Premier League, and the UAE accorded them a warm welcome.
The Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab and the Kolkata Knight Riders were greeted with 'Marhaba,' the traditional Arabic welcome, as they jetted into the country on chartered flights. The Rajasthan Royals, inaugural champions of the competition in 2008, were the first to set foot here, and they followed the safety procedures right to the 'T' with the entire squad dressed in PPEs.
Kings XI Punjab were the next to land, while the Kolkata Knight Riders, winners in 2012 and 2014, when the first phase of the tournament was held in the UAE, jetted into Abu Dhabi in the evening.
Dubai will be the base for the Rajasthan Royals, led by Steve Smith, as well as Kings XI Punjab, who are captained by KL Rahul.
Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders, skippered by Dinesh Karthik, will use the UAE capital as their base.
Touchdown ?? Abu Dhabi??- KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) August 20, 2020
??After a long day of travel, sanitising and maintaining strict protocols, our Indian Knights have safely checked in to their hotel Rooms in the capital city of the UAE!#IPL2020, here we come! ??@imkuldeep18 @RealShubmanGill @prasidh43 @rinkusingh235 pic.twitter.com/kONxoBDMjx
Soon after the teams landed after completing the procedures at the respective airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, they were whisked away to their hotels, as per the safety and security protocols.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh will not be travelling with the rest of the Chennai Super Kings squad which will leave for the UAE on Friday.
It is understood that the 40-year-old is staying back for a few days due to personal reasons and it is believed that his mother has taken ill. Harbhajan had also skipped the five-day preparatory camp held at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, which had begun on August 16.
'The Turbanator' is expected to fly out to the UAE over the next seven to 10 days. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja had also missed the camp due to personal reasons but has arrived in Chennai in time to board the flight.
The Chennai Super Kings, led by the enigmatic MS Dhoni, will miss out on six players from their roster, when they depart on the morrow.
Apart from Harbhajan, South Africans Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi, as well as West Indian Dwayne Bravo and New Zealander Mitchell Santner will arrive later. Bravo, Tahir and Santner are currently playing in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Faf du Plessis had reason to rejoice on Thursday after his wife Imari gave birth to their second child Zoey.
Meanwhile, Shane Watson posted a picture of himself on an Emirates flight bound for Dubai, with the words: "On my way to another exciting @IPL with @ChennaiIPL. This world is very different nowadays but we all have to do our part to stay safe and look after each other. #superexcited #newexperiences"
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