Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are aiming to set up camp in the UAE from August 10 to give themselves at least month to train before the IPL begins from September 19. ESPNcricinfo understands that players have been asked to report to Chennai on August 9, and will be due to leave for Dubai on August 10. However, those exact dates are subject to approvals from the Indian government. With commercial flights not available, it is understood CSK have arranged a charter flight for their players.
Last week, the IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel had confirmed that the tournament was scheduled to begin on September 19, with the final penciled in for either November 8 or November 10, and said the clearance of the government “will come”. The governing council is scheduled to meet on Sunday, August 2, to make decisions on the many logistical challenges that airlifting the tournament to the UAE will pose. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) around securing eight teams for 51 days across three venues will be formally established in that meeting.
For the franchises themselves, one of the issues will be player fitness given that the majority on their IPL rosters will not have played any cricket in recent months. Some franchises have reportedly asked for permission to land on August 20 and 21. For CSK, who have the oldest squad in the league on average, the challenge is all the more significant. MS Dhoni, their captain, for example, hasn’t played a competitive fixture since the 2019 World Cup.
In the pre-lockdown world as well, CSK were the first team to begin their training camp in March. Senior players like Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu, in fact, had begun training as early as December 2019 to get in shape for the tournament that was originally scheduled to begin on March 31.
The IPL will comprise 60 matches and will be played over 51 days (in case the final is on November 8). In the original schedule prepared in March for this year, the tournament days stretched to 50 to keep the double-headers minimal, a request of the franchises who did not want players to suffer during the peak Indian summer. It is likely the double-headers will remain minimal even in the UAE.