IPL 2020: The game must go on in silent stadiums, says Ponting
Delhi Capitals will face Kings XI Punjab in their opening game on Sunday
You can expect fireworks when the Delhi Capitals lock horns with the Kings XI Punjab in the second match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
While the Delhi Capitals have explosive talents likes Rishabh Pant, Kagiso Rabada and Shreyas Iyer in their line-up, KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and the mercurial Glenn Maxwell will lead the Kings XI Punjab.
If you are an Indian cricket fan, you could not have asked for a better treat on a Sunday evening after having been starved of world-class action in a season ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And it's the menace of coronavirus that has kept the fans out of the stadiums here in the UAE.
Delhi captain Iyer had no qualms admitting that players would miss the passion fans brings to the stadiums.
"Fans, obviously when they are there in the stands, they give you a great boost. We would be obviously missing them in the stadium, their cheer, their roar and the support that we used to get definitely, that would be missing," Iyer said during a virtual pre-match press conference on Saturday.
Delhi coach Ricky Ponting admitted too that it would be a different experience to play a tournament as big as the IPL in empty stadiums.
"Certainly it's going to be different. I think everything about our preparations so far for this IPL has been completely different anyway," the legendary Australian batsman said.
"We have done three and a half weeks of training already leading up to our first game, the boys and everyone in the squad have been under very strict Covid protocols which is unusual.
"Yeah, once we play our first game, playing in front of an empty stadium, it will be different. There will be some challenges there for the boys, but I think once we do start, it's obviously going to be about creating our own atmosphere, our own energy. So far the coaching staff, the guys have done a good job in getting the players prepared. Now we are ready to go for the first game tomorrow."
The former Australian captain then said that every squad was strong in this IPL.
"We have done most of our research and planning for the Kings XI for our first game. One thing I can say about this IPL tournament is every squad is a really strong squad. When you look at the Delhi Capitals squad, we have got great flexibility, but I can guarantee that it's the same with every other squad," he said.
"So we have learned some lessons last year that if we turn up hundred per cent prepared to play and hundred per cent committed to our plans, we think we can be really hard to beat against any team we play.
"So I am looking forward to the challenge. It doesn't matter who we play, we prepare the same way for every game, make sure that we tick all the right boxes and the guys are in their best mental, physical and tactical shape for the game."
Iyer, on the other hand, said the arrival of experienced players like Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin has helped the Capitals, especially the junior players in the team.
"They definitely bring a lot of strength and experience to the team. If you see the practice sessions we have had over the last few days, we have been amazing. Also, all the support staff and with Ricky being around, we have got the confidence to do our best," he said.
"And you don't feel that they (Ashwin and Rahane) are the seniors in the team, at the same time, when you play with them, you feel they are part of the team and they have helped every individual, especially the juniors."
Meanwhile, Rahul, Iyer's counterpart, was brimming with confidence ahead of Kings XI's opening game.
"The team has been fantastic, we've been getting along great and are looking forward to playing a good brand of cricket and making this season a memorable one," Rahul said,
"We're confident, we're motivated and we are really excited to be a part of this edition of the Indian Premier League. It is going to be a different experience this year, but we as a team are up to the challenge and are playing for all the fans who continue to support us."
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