IPL bubble ‘tough’, but skipper says champions Mumbai in good spirits


“The Mumbai Indians celebrating their IPL crown in 2019. Skipper Rohit Sharma said the team was finding it hard to adjust to the “bubble” they were in for the 2020 coronavirus-hit version of the tournament. ©AFP” />

New Delhi (AFP) – Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma said Thursday that the IPL’s coronavirus bio-security bubble was “mentally tough”, but the team was finding ways to stimulate players and keep in good spirits.

The virus-delayed Twenty20 tournament begins Saturday in the United Arab Emirates, with holders Mumbai playing the Chennai Super Kings in the opener in Abu Dhabi.

Teams in the world’s richest cricket competition must abide by strict guidelines, leaving them encased in an isolation “bubble” with only hotel staff, their fellow competitors, and their similarly quarantined family.

“Mentally it is tough, but hats off to the team management,” Sharma told an online press conference from Abu Dhabi.

“In our hotel, they have created some amazing space around where we can just relax, chill, spend time with your family and relax.

“We have been here for almost three weeks and have been in good spirits.Now it’s all about preparation and getting into that game phase mode.”

The T20 league will be played behind closed doors at three UAE venues, including Dubai and Sharjah.

Mumbai — winners of a record four IPL titles — are favourites to win this 13th edition, but Sharma said adapting to the foreign conditions would be crucial to their success.

“Not a lot of cricketers from our group have played here,” the star batsman said.

He reckoned the team’s spinners — including Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Anukul Roy and Prince Balwant Rai — would have an advantage on the slow Arab wickets — a view endorsed by the coach.

“All our spinners are in contention and everyone has got the responsibility,” said Mahela Jayawardene.

“Definitely they will be effective in these conditions.”

Yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah would also have a role to play, said Sharma, with conditions suited for reverse swing.

“Not just the spinners, but even the seamers will have a lot of assistance,” he said.

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