Kings XI Punjab batsman Mayank Agarwal was neither apprehensive about getting back to the nets nor was he cribbing about the strict bio-bubble guidelines in place for the IPL, saying it’s worth following the protocols as getting to play amid the pandemic “beats everything“.
His IPL captain K. L. Rahul and India skipper Virat Kohli have spoken about the apprehensions they had when getting back in the nets after a five-month break, probably the longest in their careers, but that was not the case with the Indian Test opener.
“There were no apprehensions as such. I just did not put high expectations on myself when I went into practice. It was just more about trying to get back to where I left off. I did not look to judge myself in the first three to four net sessions,” Agarwal told PTI from Dubai.
The 29-year-old from Bangalore said head coach Anil Kumble has been slowly building up the intensity of the practice sessions.
“Physically, yes, I am (back to my best) but skill-wise it would take a few more sessions. It is just about getting your batting rhythm back and things will start flowing again. It is pretty hot in here, so I’m trying to get accustomed to the climate by training in peak hours,” added Agarwal.
Upon arrival in the UAE, all KXIP players went into a six-day quarantine period and after returning three negative tests last week, they were allowed to enter the tournament’s bio-bubble and start training.
The players and officials, who can’t invite anyone into their rooms for the entire duration of IPL and have to wear a Bluetooth band so that their movements could be tracked, could face strict action for breaching the bio-secure protocol.
All teams have taken steps to address mental health issues that may crop up throughout the tournament. Agarwal said he is just glad that the IPL is happening, something which did not look a possible couple of months ago. He also claimed that meditation helped him stay calm during the lockdown and isolation.
“Any person who is playing professional sport is mentally tough in many ways. I think most of us would be able to deal with it,” he said when asked about the challenges of playing in a protected environment.
“I could spend time meditating a lot more than I would normally. It just helps you calm your nerves and the biggest thing for me is that we have an opportunity to play the tournament, that beats everything. It is alright if you have to quarantine for six to 10 days as long as you have enough time to prepare for the tournament.
“It is what it is and I did not find it very challenging. You can be in quarantine and a bubble and play rather than crib about it and not play. I was training twice a day during those days. KXIP (management) also arranged team bonding stuff online and made sure we did not feel left alone in quarantine,” he added.
Rahul, who was exceptional for KXIP at the top of the order in the previous two seasons, has been appointed the captain for this season and Agarwal said his Karnataka teammate already has the full backing of the players.
“We have a top-quality squad this year. It is going to be a different experience for him (Rahul), leading an IPL franchise for the first time. I am very happy that he has got Anil Bhai, Chris (Gayle), Maxi (Glenn Maxwell) and a lot of experienced players in the squad to help him out in case he needs it.”