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IPL franchises begin quarantining and testing for Covid-19

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A day after a few of the IPL owners had a meeting internally to discuss the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) draft sent by the tournament’s governing council, it appears that the teams have begun activating their own protocols prior to departure to the UAE for IPL 2020.

Mumbai Indians have started quarantining their Indian players in a hotel, with regular Covid-19 tests scheduled. Players who complete their quarantine will then be allowed to train at their facility in Navi Mumbai.

Rajasthan Royals too plan to conduct Covid-19 tests for their players and support staff over the next two weeks, prior to their departure to Dubai. Another franchise has asked their Indian players to home quarantine – as a precaution – while simultaneously initiating Covid-19 tests.

“Outdoor training is out of question still, we’re being cautious and since everything is still very uncertain with regards to SOPs, we’re awaiting a final confirmation,” a franchise source said. “We have put forward our concerns with the IPL governing council, hopefully everything will be clear this weekend so that we can start planning.”

Currently the IPL has laid out a stringent week-long quarantine process, along with four Covid-19 tests for players and support staff, before they can start training in the UAE. ESPNcricinfo understands that a number of franchises have sought a reduction in this quarantine period upon entering the biosecure bubble in the UAE.

While the IPL schedule hasn’t been announced yet, Sunrisers Hyderabad, for example, could potentially lose David Warner and Jonny Bairstow for the first two matches if they are to undergo the mandatory seven-day quarantine.

Both players would likely be arriving in the UAE from the United Kingdom following the conclusion of the T20I series between England and Australia on September 15, four days prior to the start of the IPL season.

Meanwhile, the IPL has also put in place stringent measures for ad shoots and promotional activities involving players. Players are required to have a 10-day gap between their shoots and their departure to the UAE.

The shoots can only be scheduled at ballrooms of a five-star hotel, in order to maintain social distancing norms, with a strict cap of five crew members allowed at the location of the shoot with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to prevent any physical contact.

The franchises are expected to meet the IPL governing council on Friday through video conference, while awaiting the finalised SOPs, which has delayed the departure of a number of teams.

Chennai Super Kings, for example, were looking at arriving in the UAE in the second week of August. That move stands cancelled because of the absence of a formal SOP. However, they have sent out a note to their Indian players to start arriving in Chennai once the IPL circulates the SOP.

Meanwhile, Kolkata Knight Riders are looking at having Abu Dhabi as their base from August 21 or 22, with the overseas contingent of Brendon McCullum, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell joining the team from the Caribbean after their CPL commitments end by September 10.

Kings XI Punjab too are looking at assembling their Indian squad together, before flying out to the UAE.



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Essex captain Tom Westley issues apology after beer poured on Muslim player

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Essex captain Tom Westley has issued an apology on behalf of his team following an incident at Lord’s which saw alcohol poured over a young Muslim player.

Essex lifted the Bob Willis Trophy on Sunday, triggering scenes of jubilation on the balcony of their dressing room at Lord’s. Amid the photographs of those moments, Feroze Khushi, a 21-year-old batsman who played four games in the group stage of the tournament, is seen grimacing as beer is poured over his head by another young player on the staff. ESPNcricinfo has chosen not to name that player or show photographs which might be deemed incriminating.

ALSO READ: Essex admit ‘work needs to be done’ after player pictured pouring alcohol over Muslim team-mate

While Essex released a statement on Monday admitting the celebrations “did not meet the inclusive values” of the club, they stopped short of offering an apology. Westley, at the end of his first season as captain, has now corrected that and admitted the squad are “disappointed” they let the incident happen and determined to “be more responsible” in future.

“On behalf of myself and the team, we would like to apologise for any offence that was caused during our celebrations at Lord’s on Sunday,” Westley said. “At Essex, we believe we have built a strong dressing-room culture that supports one another both on and off the field.

“As a group, we have come together today and discussed the event and on reflection, we are disappointed that we let this happen.

“Moving forward, the squad will be more responsible and aware of our actions and will continue to learn and develop with the help of the ECB and the PCA.”

The incident occurred at a time of great sensitivity towards such issues in the game across the country. Revelations from the likes of Michael Carberry, Azeem Rafiq, Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent have increased awareness over the struggles of players from BAME communities in the English game and led to an acceptance that the sport has a long way to go in its journey towards full and equal inclusivity.

While most observers, including those from the National Asian Cricket and the National Cricket League, agreed the incident at Lord’s was grounded more in ignorance than malice, it will have done nothing to convince those from Muslim communities that the sport is welcoming towards them.

Essex’s record in such areas is better than most. No county squad contains more players from a BAME background and the speed with which they produced a statement on Monday compared favourably with Yorkshire’s reluctance to comment following Rafiq’s allegations. Westley’s additional comments underline the impression the club are determined to use the incident as a learning experience in their bid to increase their commitment towards inclusivity.



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Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals, Dubai

Pro Tip: The in-form Steven Smith is a definite choice for captain but do keep an eye out for the Knight Riders middle-order batsmen.

Our XI: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Steve Smith, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Tom Curran, Varun Chakravarthy, Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot

Substitutes: Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Rahul Tewatia, Sunil Narine

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection.

Captain: Steven Smith
Smith decided to open the batting for the Royals and has scored two consecutive fifties. He will look to play deep into the innings and that only means more points for you. Though he has played both the games in Sharjah, his strike rate this season has been 160.81, which is significantly higher than his IPL career strike rate of 128.95.

Vice-captain: Andre Russell
Russell has been used at the death by the Knight Riders and we know what he can do with the bat, too. Two overs at the death means a higher possibility of getting a wicket as well. The Royals bowlers have been poor in the death in the last two games and Russell will be keen on exploiting their struggle further. He has struck at 246.27 in the death overs in the IPL since 2018.

Hot Picks
Jos Buttler: Buttler fell for a single-digit score against the Kings XI but given his consistency in the format, it might make sense to back him to fire against the Knight Riders. Since 2018, Buttler has opened the innings on 15 occasions and has scored fifties on eight of them in the IPL.

Sanju Samson: Samson has been one of the best batsmen on show in the tournament so far. He has been striking as cleanly as ever, and consistently at that, scoring consecutive fifties for the first time in his IPL career. On slightly bigger grounds, Samson’s ability to run hard could get him more runs. Since 2017, he has scored 41.1% of his runs in singles and twos in the IPL.

Nitish Rana: As in previous editions, he has shown glimpses of excellence this season, too, but has failed to convert his starts so far. Clarity over his role in the batting order could probably be a reason; it looks like he will bat at No. 3 in most games this year.

Differential Picks
Ankit Rajpoot: He started out poorly against the Kings XI openers but came back strongly in the death. Though his economy at the death in the IPL since 2017 has been 10.7, he has a strike rate of 8.6. His recent performance against the Kings XI at the death suggests his economy should go down as well over the forthcoming matches.
Varun Chakravarthy: As if one mystery spinner is not enough in the line-up, the Knight Riders have brought in Varun Chakravarthy, too, who appears to be cast in the same mold as Sunil Narine. Though Chakravarthy has not played a lot of T20 games yet, he could have a huge impact in the game given his variations. Expect him to have a good season.

Alternate Scenarios

  • If Narine continues to open, chances of Russell getting to bat becomes less. So Sanju Samson could be your alternative vice-captain option, given his form.

  • The Knight Riders are likely to go in again with seven bowling options which makes it harder for one bowler to pick a bunch of wickets. If they drop a bowler, pick Sunil Narine for a Knight Riders player.

  • If Dinesh Karthik continues to bat in the top four, he should be your vice-captain. Karthik has scored 232 runs against the Royals since 2018 at a atrike rate of 163.38.



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IPL 2020 – ‘We had no idea how to play on this wicket’

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After winning their first two games in Dubai, the Delhi Capitals suffered their first defeat in IPL 2020, losing to the Sunrisers Hyderabad by 15 runs in Abu Dhabi. Shreyas Iyer, the Capitals’ captain, said that the lack of game-time at a new venue contributed significantly to their defeat.

Iyer, who had opted to chase, felt Sunrisers’ total of 162 for 4 was a par one and said his side was “happy to restrict” them to that score. He also said that the dew they expected in Dubai didn’t set in and therefore batting in the second innings was tougher than what he expected it to be.

“We had actually no idea how to play on this wicket because this is our first game here, and they played their last game here,” Iyer told host broadcaster Star Sports after the match. “So they pretty much outplayed us in all three departments.

It [the pitch] was really surprising. In the second innings, it was two-paced. When I went into bat, I wasn’t getting the ball well onto the bat. We thought the dew factor would play a massive role in the second innings and the ball would come [on] really well. We didn’t really execute the way we wanted to, but lot of learning from this wicket and also the conditions. The next time we come here, we’ll be very prepared.”

Iyer also said that given the bigger boundaries in Abu Dhabi, the Capitals had planned to run more twos on the night and felt they did not capitalise on that aspect of their game. In all, the Capitals ran seven twos in their chase, compared to Sunrisers’ 11 in the first innings.

As for the Sunrisers, they earned their first victory after losing their first two matches, and their captain David Warner credited the yorkers bowled by his seamers for that. He also said that the running between the wickets between Jonny Bairstow and him in their 77-run opening stand, under hot conditions, helped them overcome a difficult opening spell of fast bowling from the Capitals earlier in the evening.

Warner also spoke of the challenge of finding a balanced XI that allows Kane Williamson, who scored a match-winning 41 off 26 balls – to play.

“It is tricky, we’ve always tried hard with that balance,” Warner said. “After Mitchell Marsh got injured, we wondered how we can get some overs out, and young Abhishek Sharma held his nerve, bowled good lines [as the fifth bowler]. But getting an experienced batsman [like Williamson] helps.



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