Covering the Indian Premier League (IPL) from the UAE is going to be very different to the usual IPL experience. Players, broadcasters and fans are going to miss the atmosphere from inside the Indian stadia, but I think that the television audience it attracts will show that the 2020 IPL is going ahead for the right reasons.
It’s all about entertainment and the players need to understand that and turn it on for the viewers. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy though; the buzz created by a packed stadium can really get you going, so for some players they will need to find a new way of firing themselves up.
Despite the unusual circumstances, however, there will be plenty to talk about the tournament gets started. Kevin Pietersen gave us the top 5 storylines to watch out for this IPL.
How will players cope inside the bubble?
Other than those who have played in England this summer, no one will have experience of living inside the bubble. Having had a taste of it myself, I can tell you it won’t be easy. Travelling from hotel to stadium and back again, on a constant loop, is going to get frustrating and these guys are going to be doing it for a while.
We’ve seen some players withdraw already, so it’ll be interesting to see if we still have full squads by the tournament’s conclusion.
It’ll be particularly tough in Dubai, where there’s the constant call of its beautiful golf courses, restaurants and cafes. Surviving two months of a high-pressured environment, while trying to do your best on the cricket field, will be grinding. I think there’s a chance it will be a bit of a slog for some of the broadcasters, too!
Exciting young Indian talent
Every year it’s exciting to see the latest crop of emerging young Indian talent. One that I can’t wait to see again is Shubman Gill, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders, the fourth-favourites to win this year’s competition in the latest IPL betting.
He is a young opening batsman who I thought was unlucky to miss out on the India squad for the World Cup in England after a brilliant 2019 IPL. He averaged more than 30 as a 19-year-old during that competition.
I think he’s definitely somebody that we will be watching on our television screens for a long time. He’s got all the shots. He can play classical cricket, but he has the ability to turn it on and hit sixes at will.
He’s young, entertaining and I think he’s got a bright future.
How will MS Dhoni fare?
Having announced his international retirement a few weeks ago, I’m interested to see how he goes in this year’s IPL. He’s passionate, dedicated and loves the Chennai Super Kings, but after this long break from cricket, it’ll be interesting to see how he’s feeling. It might have refreshed him and set him up positively, or it might have had a negative influence on his game. I don’t think it will be somewhere between the two.
Will this be his last IPL? If it is, how will he go about things? Maybe he’s got a few more years left in the tank, but you just never know. Whatever his thoughts are about the future, I know they won’t affect his captaincy. He’s a pretty cool guy, very unassuming and he enjoys going under the radar.
Whether he can still produce those performances as the match-winner, the finisher, for CSK will be very interesting to find out.
Rooting for the Delhi Capitals
I had my best IPL years in Delhi, so they’re my favourite team. I remain close to the team, I love the ownership structure there and I have a great rapport with the Delhi fans. I would love to see them turn a corner a really fire this year.
They’ve got Ricky Ponting as coach and Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada as their overseas bowlers, as well as some very exciting Indian talent on their books. I want them to win it.
The fascinating case of RCB
As is always the case, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the most interesting teams in this year’s IPL. With the combination of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, they are always the team to watch.
It always baffles me how they so consistently underperform – this is a team that has never won the IPL. RCB was my first IPL team and everything felt geared up for success there in 2009-10. They’ve had an amazing roster of players, including peak Chris Gayle when he was knocking it out of the park at will. It amazed me that they’ve never won it.
I say it every year, but things might go differently for them this year, with Mike Hesson coming in to work alongside Simon Katich on the coaching staff. They need Hesson to have the Midas touch to get them over the line.
With Kohli and De Villiers, and now new signing Aaron Finch, everybody knows that RCB can get the runs, but are they going to get the wickets they desperately need?
Dale Steyn can hopefully get their bowling attack going, alongside Adam Zampa.
Kevin Pietersen is an ambassador for Betway and will be commentating on this year’s IPL