Cricket

Indian Premier League is a warm-up for the men’s T20 World Cup.

The Proteas have recently struggled in test and ODI cricket, but they are now on a roll in T20Is, having won straight away series against world champions the West Indies, Ireland, and, most recently, Sri Lanka.

The second half of this year’s Covid-interrupted Indian Premier League, which begins on Sunday in the UAE, will serve as a valuable warm-up for players, spectators, and officials ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup, which will be held at many of the same sites the following month.

More good news is that, following the IPL’s statement this week, the remaining games – in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah – would be played in front of crowds of “limited capacity.” If everything goes well – and most people in the UAE get vaccinated – the World Cup, which will begin in Oman before moving to the UAE for the Super 12s and elimination rounds, might see similar or even more relaxed conditions.

The rest of the IPL 2021 will give the participants the opportunity to play in conditions that will be recreated on the international stage from October 17 to November 14. This will be especially valuable for the South African players who will be competing, but less so for the England players, who have withdrawn for a variety of reasons.

The Proteas have recently struggled in test and ODI cricket, but they are now on a roll in T20Is, having won straight away series against world champions the West Indies, Ireland, and, most recently, Sri Lanka.

Aiden Markram and Tabraiz Shamsi, two players of the South African side who were not originally scheduled to play in the IPL, have been added to the squads of the Punjab Royals and Rajasthan Royals, respectively, due to late withdrawals. Shamsi, a left-arm wrist-spinner, is the leading bowler in international T20 cricket, while Markram, a top-order batsman, has been in superb form.

The eagerly awaited duel between two of the IPL’s giants, the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians, will take place on Sunday. The former is now in second place on the log with 10 points, while Mumbai is in fourth place with eight points.

Lungi Ngidi, a South African paceman, has contributed to CSK’s strong start, despite the fact that the team’s other two South Africans, Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir, were left out of the Proteas’ World Cup roster. With 320 runs in seven innings at an average of 64, Du Plessis is now the third best run-scorer in this year’s championship. Quinton de Kock, who was the best batsman in Sri Lanka’s last T20 series, will play for Mumbai.

Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, the two pillars of the Proteas’ pace attack, will be trying to fine-tune their relationship for the Delhi Capitals, who are presently on top of the log with 12 points and are favourites to make the playoffs for the third year in a row. In addition to their blistering pace, Delhi has a fantastic spin duo in Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel.

AB de Villiers and Chris Morris, two of South Africa’s most highly ranked players, were left out of the World Cup squad, as were Du Plessis and Tahir. De Villiers plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore, while all-rounder Morris, who commanded the highest auction price in IPL history and is the tournament’s second top wicket-taker with 14 wickets, plays for Rajasthan Royals.

This is the second time the IPL has been held in the UAE under a Covid cloud, with the first being held behind closed doors last year. This year’s competition began on April 9 at four locations in India before being halted on May 3 after four franchises tested positive for the virus. On October 15, two days before the start of the World Cup qualifying round, the final will be held in Dubai.

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