Kolkata Knight Riders confirmed that their contingent of Indian players and support staff have arrived in Abu Dhabi, and well settled at The Ritz Carlton.
"I am glad our boys have reached the UAE safely, and are being well taken care of. All SOPs and protocols established by the IPL have been complied with. Once the quarantine requirements are met, the team will start practice sessions. We are pleased that the IPL 2020 season will be underway in a few weeks despite the challenges posed by the pandemic," said Venky Mysore, KKR's CEO and MD.
KKR has roped in Dr Srikanth Narayanaswamy as the Team Physician. He, along with Kamlesh Jain, our Head Physio, and Chris Donaldson, the strength & conditioning coach, will be looking after the squad.
Captain Dinesh Karthik believes even though this year IPL will feel very different, the team will put their best foot forward to bring joy to the KKR fans. "This IPL will be different. What has happened in the world has pained us deeply and it is surely a challenge to play cricket. But we understand that when we play the game, we bring happiness to our fans. Yes, there will be a bio bubble. Yes, we haven't played or trained extensively for the last few months. Yes, the road ahead may be full of obstacles. But we promise to give it all," said Karthik.
Kuldeep Yadav, looking in great shape, admitted the lockdown had taken a toll on cricketers. “Initially, it was very tough to adjust when the lockdown was imposed, because we were unable to practice outdoors. But I am completely ready now. In fact, I will be happy if there is a match in the next 7 days! I can’t wait to get back in action”
Shubman Gill was equally pumped to get back on the field. “I think we all are really desperate (to play) because for a long time, we were in our houses and we have only been prepping mentally. We all are really excited. I'm very excited to go out there and express myself,” he said.
Our Indian pacers Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna stressed on how important the next few weeks were going to be for them to get back in the groove for the season.
“It won’t be an easy year. Playing cricket after being locked up in the house for over 5 months is going to be quite a different experience. The players will have to be inside a bio bubble throughout the tournament which means they can’t step out beyond designated zones, nor they can come in touch with outsiders. Even as friends, we have to maintain distance. No hugging, no high fives,” said Prasidh.
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
"The last four-five months at home have really taught me how important cricket is for me," Warrier pointed out. Mavi echoed his thoughts and said, “No one has played cricket for the last 5 months. I haven't played the sport for a year now. But I am ready for the IPL and can’t wait to play for KKR again.”
Nagarkoti, who missed 2018 and 2019 seasons due to injuries, was raring to go. “I've waited for this moment for the past two years. Now that I'll get to play, I'm very excited,” he said.
Playing at Eden Gardens is a sheer joy and all our Knights vouch for it. This year, the Home of the Knights won’t see any live action, but Karthik believes that every player will keep Eden in their hearts while playing in the UAE.
"At KKR, we do our best to bring Joy to the city of joy,” the skipper said. “We may not be playing this year at our home Eden Gardens, but it is where our heart is. As we embark on our journey to the UAE, with slight nervousness and immense enthusiasm, we seek your (fans’) blessings. You pray for us, we will play for you. Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo.”
The IPL gets underway on September 19, with the detailed fixtures yet to be announced.