This season promises to be an exciting one and this is the second time that it is taking place amidst the pandemic.
The IPL is back and the first match of the season kicked off on April 9 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The VIVO IPL 2021 started with a match between current champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. RCB won the first match and as of today, all teams were already able to play at least one game.
This season promises to be an exciting one and this is the second time that it is taking place amidst the pandemic. India is going through another surge in COVID 19 cases but so far, the BCCI hasn’t made any changes for the rest of the season.
So far, all matches are still scheduled to take place behind closed doors which means that fans can only watch the live stream of the matches and only place their bets on an IPL betting app or website. However, even if it’s likely that this IPL season will push through without any schedule changes, there are still cricketers that people will be missing this season.
Mumbai Indian’s Hardik Pandya
There wasn’t any announcement that Hardik Pandya won’t be part of the first match of MI this season. Many started to ask questions about this and wondered if Pandya was injured. After this match, Pandya was seen but Chris Lynn seems to have dropped a hint that Pandya isn’t fully fit.
Lynn spoke to the reporters and said, “I’m not 100 percent sure, but it’s a bit of a shoulder niggle. I think Hardik Pandya, not bowling is maybe more precautionary. He has played a fair bit of cricket leading up to this tournament, in which he has to play (a minimum) 14 games as well. So, you don’t want to throw your eggs in one basket and risk injury.”
Eventually, this was confirmed by MI’s director of cricket operations Zaheer Khan. Khan said that Pandya indeed has a shoulder issue and said, “There was a little bit of a shoulder concern but I don’t think it is worrisome. You will see him bowl very soon. We are very confident that he will be chipping in with the ball in his hand as well.”
Khan also expressed how Pandya is of value to the team. He said, “Hardik as a whole package is always of great value, everyone knows that. It was a workload-related thing in the previous game. He bowled in the whole England series, in the last ODI he bowled about nine overs and that is why in consultation with the physio, we had to take that approach.”
Rajasthan Royal’s Jofra Archer
Archer’s injury has been troubling the RR franchise for a while now. He was already ruled out of England’s ODI against India and he also had hand surgery in January because of a home accident that happened while he cleaned a fish tank at home.
Based on recent reports, Archer seems to be recovering fine as he was already given the clearance to return to light training with the guidance and supervision of Sussex and England medics. Still, the franchise won’t be pushing him to return to the field if he’s not yet ready.
RR’s team director Kumar Sangakkara spoke about their initial concern about Archer’s condition. He said, "The injury concern was flagged up going into the auction but he was playing excellently for England. So the chances of him playing in the IPL from the start and being managed by the experts were realistic. But we have contingency plans in place now and no risks will be taken.
"We are certainly hoping that he will be available for some part of the IPL. Not having him at the start is a big blow for us, because a lot of our planning is centered around his availability, and such last-minute injury concerns do affect any side, especially if it's a player of the quality of Jofra.
“But it's very important that Jofra gets fit, not just for the IPL, but importantly for his international career. He needs to be in a very good space with his body, and mentally, when he does come here, so we're all waiting to see how the assessment goes. And once the assessment is done, we'll know more.".
Rajasthan Royal’s Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes’ injury only recently happened during their match against Punjab Kings. This happened when Stokes dived forward and clung on at long-on during a catch in the deep to see off veteran cricketer Chris Gayle.
Rajasthan Royals already released a statement and said, "Ben Stokes has been ruled out of the IPL following a broken finger in last night's game. He will stay with the Royals and support the rest of the group in the upcoming matches."
There is no complete report yet on the status of Stokes’ injury. The ECB medical team and UK hand specialist are already monitoring him and the result of his second X-ray should be available in the next few days.
Stokes already spoke to the Mirror about his situation and said, "I'm devastated. To suffer a broken finger in the very first game is just devastating."