IPL re-ignites minus top stars | Sunday Observer

IPL re-ignites minus top stars

19 September, 2021
The Mumbai Indians celebrate the IPL they won in 2020
The Mumbai Indians celebrate the IPL they won in 2020

The money making Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket’s richest prize, will resume on Sunday in the United Arab Emirates but without a host of top international stars after four months of pandemic suspension according to international media reports.

Fans will be in the stands for the first time in two years when the Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings in Dubai to restart the competition.

The tournament was halted in May because of coronavirus deaths in India, prompting foreign players to rush for every available flight out. Many are not coming back.

It has been reported in the international media that England stars Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes will be out of the IPL.

Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins, who signed for Kolkata Knight Riders for $2 million in 2020, will also be absent according to the reports.

Some England players are injured and others have opted to rest before next month’s T20 World Cup but questions have been raised that it could be a tit for tat after India pulled out of the fifth and final Test in England because of a Covid outbreak in their camp.

India’s players had been “dead scared” about the spread of coronavirus ahead of the Test, according to India cricket chief Sourav Ganguly.

But some English commentators accused India’s players of being more worried about missing out on an IPL payday.

India had strongly denied putting the IPL first.

“Unfortunate that we had to end up here early,” said India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli in Dubai.

“But with Covid in place, things are very uncertain,” added Kohli, who on Thursday announced he will be stepping down as India’s T20 captain after the World Cup.

“Anything can happen at any time. Hopefully, we’re able to maintain a good, strong, and secure environment, and have a quality IPL.”

The eight-team tournament resumes with Delhi Capitals at the top of the table followed by Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai in the playoff places.

The remaining 31 matches will be held in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi and the final in Dubai on October 15.

“It’s going to be an exciting phase and a very important one for us at RCB and then for the Indian team at the T20 World Cup,” Kohli said.

Much focus will be on Kohli’s results and whether Rohit Sharma, expected to take over as India T20 captain, can add to his five titles with holders Mumbai.

Bangalore praised Kohli’s “fearless and selfless” leadership after his decision to relinquish the India captaincy.

Kohli’s side have called up replacements for Australia’s Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, who both left in April as the Covid outbreak in India grew.

The additions of Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva of Sri Lanka were welcomed by Kohli who said they have “great skill sets”.

Delhi Capitals have called in Australian fast bowler Ben Dwarshuis to replace Woakes, who pulled out to stay fresh for the T20 World Cup.

Rajasthan Royals, fifth in the table, have seen their playoff hopes badly hit with the loss of Stokes (mental health break), Archer (injured), Buttler (personal reasons) and Liam Livingstone, another who left before the IPL’s suspension.

The IPL according to agency reports was estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.