While the franchises have landed in the Emirates and shifted to their individual bases, not all of them have moved to high gear in terms of preparation.
While their rivals have already started sweating it out in the indoor training facilities, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians (MI) are still stuck in quarantine.
Reason? The Kolkata and Mumbai franchises were asked to weigh anchor in Abu Dhabi, which mandates one to spend 14 days in quarantine on landing before he could resume normal life, which, for a professional athlete or, a cricketer in this case, is to begin training.
As things stand now, the players representing the KKR and the defending champions have to spend an extra seven days cooped up in their hotel rooms. The best that they can do is to partake of is the personal gym equipment that has been made available for them.
The other franchises, who are based in Dubai, have already seen through their mandatory quarantine period. While the KL Rahul-led Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and the Steve Smith-led Rajasthan Royals (RR) have already begun training and the rest are likely to follow suit in the next couple of days.
As per protocols currently in place in Dubai, a visitor is required to take a COVID test before departure and stay in isolation on arrival only as long as the report comes through, which is usually a couple of days. If the report comes back negative, the visitor concerned need not be isolated.
The Knights, along with their support staff, arrived in Abu Dhabi on August 20. According to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that has been put together by the IPL Governing Council, they ought to have completed their mandatory six-day quarantine period on Wednesday and been cleared to enter the ‘bio-secure bubble’. Yet, they continue to stay in isolation.
The players are believed to be awaiting a word from the team manager on whether can start training.
As for the Mumbai Indians, they arrived at their base on August 21 and word is that they won’t be allowed to start training before September 2 or 3.
Before the franchises flew out to the Emirates, they were told that they have to spend the first week upon landing in isolation. So, it begs the question whether the tournament’s organisers, the IPL Governing Council, wasn’t aware of the quarantine rules in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking to Inside Sport, an MI official said, “We’ve requested the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) to intervene (and settle the issue surrounding the quarantine rule). We’re told we have to follow seven days’ quarantine period, but now it has come to our knowledge that as per the local norms, we’ll be in 14 days’ quarantine.”
It is understood that IPL Governing Council chairman Brajesh Patel and CEO Hemang Amin are currently in the UAE to settle the matter with the authorities.
However, it is learnt that the two franchises are upset with the BCCI for keeping them in the dark on the different quarantine protocol in Abu Dhabi.
While talks are on to resolve the situation, the Governing Council might even consider reducing the number of matches in Abu Dhabi and have Dubai host more if the authorities don’t allow the capping of the mandatory quarantine period of the franchises to seven days.
With Covid cases believed to be on the rise in Abu Dhabi, there isn’t much hope of the authorities agreeing to bending rules to suit the two franchises.
Even then, KKR and MI would have every reason to consider themselves hard done by as their rivlas will have stolen a march over them by the time they start training.