Muttiah Muralitharan undergoes angioplasty in Chennai

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April 18

Muttiah Muralitharan, the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling coach, has undergone angioplasty on Sunday in Chennai. ESPNcricinfo understands Muralitharan had a stent fitted to open a blocked artery that was discovered recently during a routine check-up.

It is understood Muralitharan has been admitted in a well-known hospital in Chennai. Once he is discharged, he will undergo the necessary quarantine guidelines of the IPL before rejoining the Sunrisers staff.

Muralitharan, the former Sri Lanka offspinner, is the most prolific bowler in Test history, picking up 800 wickets in 133 Tests at an average of 22.72. He played 66 IPL games for three franchises – Chennai Super Kings, Kochi Tuskers and Royal Challengers Bangalore – before joining the Sunrisers as bowling coach in 2015.

April 17

Daniel Sams tests negative for Covid-19, to join RCB bubble

Royal Challengers Bangalore allrounder Daniel Sams has joined the team’s bio-secure bubble after testing negative for Covid-19. The Royal Challengers confirmed in a press release that their medical team was in “constant touch” with the player to “ensure his safety”. He has been declared fit to join the team after all the required examinations as per BCCI protocols.

Sams hada tested positive for the virus earlier this month before his team’s opening game against the Mumbai Indians in Chennai. The Australian arrived in Chennai on April 3 and had returned a negative test at that time, according to a statement issued by the franchise. But a second test result on April 7 came out positive. He then went into isolation at a designated medical facility and was reportedly asymptomatic.

April 9

Behrendorff joins Super Kings as Hazlewood replacement

Chennai Super Kings have signed up Jason Behrendorff, the Australia left-arm seamer, as a replacement for his compatriot Josh Hazlewood, who pulled out of IPL 2021 in order to stay in shape for a packed international calendar.

The towering Behrendorff is particularly effective with the new ball, combining swing with steep bounce and his awkward left-arm angle. He has previously played one season of the IPL for Mumbai Indians, picking up five wickets in as many matches during their victorious 2019 campaign. He has also featured in 11 ODIs and 7 T20Is for Australia.

April 7

Daniel Sams tests positive for Covid-19

Daniel Sams, the Royal Challengers Bangalore allrounder, has tested positive for Covid-19. According to a statement tweeted by the Royal Challengers, Sams had returned a negative test upon his arrival in Chennai on April 3. A second test on April 7, however, returned a positive result, as a result of which he has gone into isolation at a designated medical facility, where he remains asymptomatic as of now.

Since Sams had been in quarantine since his arrival in India, he had not yet made contact with any other player or Royal Challengers staff member.

Sams played three matches for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020, and was traded to the Royal Challengers ahead of the 2021 player auction.

April 6

Rabada, Nortje arrive in Mumbai, but will have to miss Capitals’ first game

Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, who picked up 52 wickets between them in IPL 2020, have reached the Delhi Capitals team hotel in Mumbai but will miss at least their team’s first match – on April 10 against the Chennai Super Kings – as they will have to first be in quarantine for one week, a franchise statement confirmed. The Capitals’ second game is on April 15, against the Rajasthan Royals, and the two quicks are expected to be ready for that.

The two South African fast bowlers played big parts in helping the Capitals reach the final for the first time in the IPL last season, and were subsequently retained by the franchise. They were both part of the first two ODIs against Pakistan in the ongoing series at home, and left for India on Monday.

Shahrukh Khan reminds Anil Kumble of Kieron Pollard

Watching Shahrukh Khan bat is a throwback to the Kieron Pollard experience at the Mumbai Indians for Anil Kumble, the Punjab Kings director of cricket operations. Kumble said that he used to bowl to Pollard with strict instructions not to hit the ball straight back; with Khan, Kumble hasn’t even been trying.

“He reminds me, a bit like Pollard actually,” Kumble said in a video posted by the Punjab Kings on Twitter. “When I was with Mumbai Indians, Pollard in the nets was dangerous. I used to bowl a bit, so the first things that I would tell him was, ‘look, don’t hit straight’.

“Here I am not even trying. I am a lot older now, and the body doesn’t take the bowling anymore. So I am not going to bowl at Shahrukh, for sure.”

Khan, the uncapped Tamil Nadu batsman, went to the Punjab franchise for INR 5.25 crore (from a base price of INR 20 lakh), and while that took time to sink in for the 25-year-old, he has settled down quickly. He also wants to get cracking with his range-hitting sessions quickly: “Looking forward to lose some balls, get them out of the park.”

April 5

Maharashtra government gives green signal for IPL in Mumbai

The Maharashtra government has cleared the way for the IPL to go ahead in Mumbai, allowing teams to practice after 8 PM and travel to their respective hotels even during the night curfew that has been imposed in the city.

The state government had imposed Section 144 in Maharashtra starting from Sunday, including a night curfew from 8 PM to 7 AM, due to a recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

However, the state government has allowed the IPL teams to practice beyond 8 PM, provided there is “strict adherence to the bio-bubble”.

“Considering the match timings, teams practicing at the CCI and MCA are scheduled to practice in two sessions — from 4pm to 6.30pm and 7.30pm to 10pm,” Srirang Gholap, Under Secretary of the Disaster Management, Relief and Rehabilitation department, wrote in a letter issued to the BCCI.

“Permission has been requested for teams and the IPL staff (to) be allowed to practice inside the grounds after 8pm and they may be allowed free movement from the ground to their respective hotels after the said time.

“Accordingly, permission is being hereby accorded for the said request subject to scrupulous adherence to the bio-bubble.”

Mumbai is scheduled to host 10 matches at the Wankhede Stadium and nine of them are scheduled to start at 7.30 PM. The first game at the Wankhede is due on April 10, between the Chennai Super Kings and the Delhi Capitals.

The city recorded more than 11000 Covid-19 cases on Sunday.

April 3

Gurkeerat Singh Mann replaces Rinku Singh at KKR

Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Rinku Singh has been sidelined from the entire IPL 2021 with knee injury. Punjab batting allrounder Gurkeerat Singh Mann, who had found no takers at the auction earlier this year, has been roped in as his replacement, less than a week before the start of the tournament.

Rinku had been snapped up by the Knight Riders for INR 80 lakh in 2018 and has played ten matches for the franchise since, scoring 77 runs at an average of 11 and strike rate of 101.31. Gurkeerat, his replacement, was signed at his base price of INR 50 lakh. The 30-year old has had IPL stints with Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Punjab franchise in the past. He had also played three ODIs for India in 2016. More recently, he scored 134 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 134 to go with one wicket in three overs in Punjab’s run to the semi-finals in the 20-over Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

In all, Gurkeerat has hit 1829 runs in 113 T20s at an average of 24.38 and strike rate of 123.74.

April 2

Nitish Rana returns negative test

Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Nitish Rana returned a negative Covid-19 test on Thursday, just over a week after testing positive for the virus and undergoing self-solation. He is now expected to start training with his team-mates in Chennai shortly.

Rana had tested positive on March 22 – when he was tested as per IPL protocols – while being in mandatory quarantine ahead of the tournament. This was just a day after he had checked into the Knight Riders’ team hotel with a negative Covid-19 report.

A Knight Riders statement said that Rana had not exhibited any symptoms in this period, and he is expected to be fully fit for start of the season – his team starts its campaign against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 11.

March 31

Playing under Dhoni ‘on every player’s wish list’, says Moeen

Moeen Ali, the Chennai Super Kings’ new recruit, talked up the franchise’s “structure” and “strong leadership”, saying that they “look a very calm franchise that doesn’t panic”.

“It’s very important to have strong leadership and coaches who stay calm, who take the pressure off the players as much as they can and are consistent. We are very lucky we have that,” Ali told the franchise’s website on Wednesday. “At CSK I feel the reality is there for us to win the competition. I’m excited about playing with the players we have here.”

The Super Kings are the second-most successful IPL side, behind the Mumbai Indians, and have the remarkable record of qualifying for the playoffs on ten out of their 11 seasons; 2020 was the first time they failed to do so. And MS Dhoni, their captain from the very first season, has often been credited as one of the chief reasons for the team’s great success.

“I think what differentiates CSK from other teams is actually how they structure everything… from the squad they have to the way they do things. They look a very calm franchise that doesn’t panic,” Ali said. “I’ve spoken to players who have played under MS and they tell me how he improves their game. I believe a great captain does that.

“I think it’s something on every player’s wish list to play under MS. I think it’s the confidence and the clarity he gives people. It’s exciting.”

Amit Mishra puts in the hard yards… as a batsman

Legspinner Amit Mishra is trying to become a better batsman, preparing for “situations in matches when I will have to string partnerships of 25-30 runs” for the Delhi Capitals in the upcoming IPL.

Mishra, 38, has played first-class cricket for over two decades, and while he even has a first-class double-century, has made a name squarely as a top-notch legspinner. In the list of most successful bowlers in the IPL, Mishra ranks second only to Lasith Malinga (170 wickets) with 160 wickets from 150 matches.

“I am working on my batting,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “The coaches have also told me to keep practicing my batting as there might be situations in matches when I will have to string partnerships of 25-30 runs.
“We need to be ready for everything. Basically, if I am batting with a recognised batsman, then I should focus on taking singles and giving the strike to my partner.”

The Capitals are based in Mumbai, where they will play their first set of matches in IPL 2021, starting with their first fixture against the Chennai Super Kings on April 10, the second day of the tournament.

March 29

Pandyas, Suryakumar join Mumbai Indians camp

Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, who were all on national duty for the limited-overs leg of the series against England, have shifted from Pune to Mumbai and joined the Mumbai Indians squad ahead of IPL 2021. The tournament kicks off on April 9 with Mumbai, the defending champions, taking on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.

While Yadav made his international debut during the England series, Krunal, who had only played T20Is, made his ODI debut last week. Both players made an instant impact. Yadav, who didn’t get picked for any of the three ODIs, scored a match-winning 31-ball 57 in his first innings in international cricket, the fourth T20I against England, and followed that up with a 17-ball 32 in the final fixture as India won the series 3-2.

Krunal, meanwhile, played his first ODI after 18 T20I appearances, blasting a 31-ball 58 in a winning cause on debut.

Ponting, Ashwin join Delhi Capitals bubble
Delhi Capitals’ head coach Ricky Ponting along with R Ashwin, Axar Patel Shimron Hetmeyer and Chris Woakes have joined the team bubble in Mumbai. While Ponting and Patel reached on Sunday, the other three players landed in Mumbai on Monday. All of them will now undergo a week-long quarantine before starting the training.

The Capitals, who finished runners-up last season, are expected to started their preliminary training session from Wednesday. The initial training session will begin with a few players including Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Prithivi Shaw, Avesh Khan along with assistant coach Pravin Amre. This group along with a few other uncapped players reached Mumbai last week and will be coming out of quarantine on Tuesday, subject to them clearing the mandatory Covid-19 testing.

Meanwhile, the trio of Rishabh Pant, Sam Billings and Tom Curran will enter the Delhi Capitals bubble on Monday evening from Pune, where they wrapped up the India-England series. Players travelling to the IPL team bubbles from the England series do not need to undergo the mandatory quarantine and are free to start training.

‘Dream come true’ to play under Dhoni – K Gowtham
K Gowtham, the offspinning-allrounder, said that playing under Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni is a “dream come true” for him as he gears up to make his debut for the franchise in IPL 2021.

“I don’t feel any pressure of expectations playing for a champion side like CSK. In fact, it’s a dream come true for me to be playing under Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni),” said Gowtham, who was bought by the Super Kings at last month’s auction for INR 9.25 crore (US$ 1,273,000 approx) – the highest bid raked in by an uncapped Indian cricketer at any IPL auction.

“Bowlers love playing under Mahi bhai because he understands a bowler’s strengths and knows how to get the best out of him,” he added.

Gowtham, who was released by the Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings) after just the one season, said the Super Kings management offers players a conducive environment to express themselves freely.

“What differentiates Chennai Super Kings from most teams in the Indian Premier League is the clarity in their thought process and an organised approach,” he said. “The CSK management understands cricket owing to its long association with the game, which again reflects in its approach to players – the comforting words and confidence given when things aren’t going right.

“It makes a big difference as it helps a player to express himself. They talk to the player if anything specific is needed or if he’s working on something. When these things are taken care of, it’s much easier for a player to go out and give his best.”

The Super Kings will begin their campaign on April 10, with a game against the Delhi Capitals in Mumbai, where they will play their first five games and are currently training, having previously attended a camp in Chennai.

March 28

The Delhi Capitals will have two assistant coaches for IPL 2021, with Ajay Ratra, the former India wicketkeeper, joining Mohammad Kaif in a similar role. Their backroom contingent also consists of Ricky Ponting (head coach), Pravin Amre (batting consultant) and James Hopes (bowling coach).

Ratra, a NCA-certified coach, coaches Assam in the domestic circuit. Prior to that, he was involved with Punjab as well as the Indian women’s team as a fielding and wicketkeeping consultant. This will be his first assignment with an IPL franchise.

Ratra, who made his international debut in 2002, played six Tests and 12 ODIs for India. His maiden Test century against West Indies in Antigua – an unbeaten 115 – which made him the fifth-youngest Indian and the youngest wicketkeeper overall to score a Test hundred. He played 99 first-class matches, scoring 4029 runs at an average of 30.29, which included eight hundreds and a double-century. He also played in 89 List A games, scoring 1381 runs at 22.63.

March 27

Five Knight Riders get cracking with preparatory camp in Navi Mumbai
The Kolkata Knight Riders have hit the ground running in the lead-up to IPL 2021, with five of their players – Varun Chakaravarthy, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier and Vaibhav Arora – attending a preparatory camp at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

The five players reported to practice after having finished their mandatory seven-day quarantine at the team hotel and took part in light warm-up and batting, bowling, and fielding sessions under the supervision of assistant coach Abhishek Nayar. A number of other Knight Riders players are currently serving their quarantine period in the hotel, as per the BCCI’s guidelines, and will start training soon.

Chakravarthy, whose last appearance in a competitive match was during IPL 2020 in November in the UAE, was recently picked for the T20I series in Australia and against England in Ahmedabad, but missed out owing to a shoulder injury and then below-par fitness levels, respectively.

The Knight Riders, who are scheduled to kick off their campaign on April 11 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai, will play their league games across four cities also including Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru. Nayar was confident that the diverse skill-sets of the players, including recent India debutant Prasidh Krishna, would ensure a good season for the franchise.

“The likes of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Prasidh Krishna have done it time and again in the past,” Nayar told kkr.in. Prasidh, especially, who is now doing it at the international arena. I feel it was quite important for him to go on a big stage as this will give him a lot of confidence.”

Nayar admitted that though the IPL’s return to India was likely to enthuse the players, no matches at home for any of the eight franchises this time was the “only con” in this edition of the IPL.

“As a cricketer whenever you play in India, you grow a lot more. Coming and playing at Eden Gardens is something that we take pride in and we enjoy,” Nayar said. “To be honest, not playing at Eden Gardens despite playing India is going to be the only con, if I could say so.”

Kumble confirms Shami ‘fit to go’ for Punjab Kings
The Punjab Kings coach Anil Kumble says their pacer Mohammed Shami is back to full fitness after suffering a wrist injury during the Adelaide Test against Australia last December. “He is fine as far as I know,” Kumble told Sportstar on Friday. He added that Shami might draft into the playing XI for the Kings’ first game itself against the Rajasthan Royals on April 12.

“He is coming to the bio-bubble for the quarantine and he will be out in a few days,” Kumble said. “I know he hasn’t played any matches since his injury but he is good to go. We are really looking forward to him playing a few practice games and then getting ready for the first game.”

After returning home following the injury, Shami had started light training at the NCA in Bengaluru last month. Shami had played all 14 games and picked up 20 wickets for the erstwhile Kings XI Punjab team during the last edition of the IPL in the UAE.

Mumbai Indians unveil new jersey
The five-time champions will wear a new jersey for the upcoming season, created by designers Shantanu & Nikhil. According to a Mumbai Indians release, the jersey captures the composition of the 5 basic elements of the universe – earth, water, fire, air and sky, each signifying the essence of the team.

“The jersey reflects how Mumbai Indians has been built over the years resonating Stability, Cohesion, Confidence, Compassion and Exploration,” the release said. The defending champions begin their 2021 campaign on April 9 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.