IPL 2021: Anxiety grips players, teams, as travel resumes | Cricket News – Times of India


MUMBAI: On a wing and a prayer, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is plodding along. Otherwise immune to all kinds of chaos it has perennially found itself surrounded with, and gotten away, this time around cricket’s billion-dollar-baby is going through an Orwellian nightmare.
Life inside the tightly knit bio-bubble has been kind, irrespective of suggestions in certain quarters about how ‘isolation is not for the weak-hearted’. Because, outside that bio-bubble, life has been perishing like never before. It’s crumbling.
Dystopian in every sense of the word.
Apropos of the IPL ecosystem being immune to the disaster India is going through, those part of it are not immune to the havoc that Covid is unleashing across the country. They’re human, after all.
Conversations around the breakfast table have revolved around the previous day’s death counts. Lunch has been taken with a ‘pinch of salt’. Post-dinner talk has been about how the day went.
Cricket in the middle of a pandemic has been taxing, the mind oscillating between what’s coming up the next day, vis-à-vis matches and training sessions, as against what’s happening around all of us in general – the piling up of dead bodies.
“Who wants to begin a day with an antigen test and an RTPCR? Or undergo a swab test every second day? That’s what everybody inside the bubble is going through, wondering if masks are on, hands have been washed, if there’s anybody around who doesn’t belong in the bubble, or proactively enquiring if anybody’s woken up with a fever or cough every morning. Fear has gripped us all,” say those involved.
Stationed at pre-designated venues for close to three weeks, the teams are now on the move. Between the last 48 to 72 hours, Delhi Capitals flew from Mumbai to Chennai, Royal Challengers Bangalore flew from Chennai to Mumbai and the Kolkata Knight Riders returned from Chennai to Mumbai. Over the next 72 hours, Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad will fly to Delhi while Punjab Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore will head to Ahmedabad.
Travelling will mean relatively higher exposure to sights and sounds outside of the bio-bubble. “Scary? That’s understatement,” is how a franchise official put it.
The first week of the IPL saw individuals testing positive and contact-tracing of any sort helped franchises and medical officers learn about specific entry and exit points – at airports and hotels, where exposure to those outside of the bubble was relatively more.
“Better precautions are being taken this time around, with whatever little experience we gathered from the first round of traveling. But what gives? Who can claim to stay 100% protected from the virus? Obviously, the players are thinking about it all the time,” adds another franchise executive.
Team members, across franchises, have increasingly found themselves getting worried about the rising numbers and the unnerving death counts. So much so, that at times, cricket simply hasn’t been the centre of every discussion. Discussing families, friend circles, loved ones and affected people in general has kept minds engrossed.
The IPL is taking a toll of a very different kind.
“We’re human too. It’s not like we’re unaware of what’s happening around us. It’s just a job that we’re doing because if that wasn’t the case, we knew where we would be – at our homes, with our families,” say voices from inside the bubble.

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