Kohli’s Indians ‘cooked’, onus on BCCI to give respite to players

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Virat Kohli

New Delhi– After India skipper Virat Kohli’s criticism of scheduling of international matches during the times of Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian cricket board could look into the matter while drawing up the calendar for future matches if the pandemic doesn’t subside.

“As of now, nothing has been discussed among the Board officials. But in case it comes up, it will be discussed in the Apex Council meeting,” said a senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to IANS.

It has been learned that the BCCI could take up the matter, though as of now hosting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with the top players appearing in it despite the rise in Covid-19 cases, remains the priority for the BCCI.

A successful and incident-free completion of IPL is important since India is scheduled to host the T20 World Cup in October-November.

Kohli criticised the scheduling after the third and final ODI against England, saying, “Scheduling needs to be looked at in future because playing in bio-bubbles for so long, two to three months, is going to be very, very difficult, going forward.”

Kohli talked about mental strength of players as well. “You can’t expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes you do get cooked and you do feel like a bit of a change,” he said.

The India captain’s lament appears valid considering that the rival players from England got plenty of rest due to a rotation policy of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

England’s stand-in captain for the last two ODIs, Jos Buttler, said after the series: “It’s been great that everyone’s health has been really looked after and whenever it’s possible to get out of the bubble and back in.”

Buttler himself benefitted from it. He played the first Test against India in Chennai after appearing in the two preceding Tests in Sri Lanka. Then he was rested, and sent to England to give him a break while the next three Tests were played in India. He returned for the limited-overs leg of the India tour.

Jonny Bairstow missed the first two Tests on the tour of India and returned for the final two Tests and the limited-overs leg.

Moeen Ali missed the last two Tests before returning for the limited-overs leg.

Indian players, however, have not had such luxury.

The Indians have been constantly on tour since September 2020 when they travelled to the UAE for the IPL and then followed it up immediately by flying down to Australia for a full series. The large Indian squad returned and then geared up for the full series against England, re-entering the bio-bubble just after a week of their arrival.

After almost two-month long series against England, they play the IPL. The all-format players, like Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah, found it especially tough.

Kohli though managed a break, missing the last three Tests of the Australia tour due to the birth of his child.

Fast bowler Bumrah too got a break. He opted out of the fourth and final Test against England and the white ball series. He got married immediately after the England Test series.

However, the upcoming season is going to be tough for players.

Players will be confined to their hotels during the IPL. Unlike in the UAE, where hotels at least had private beaches, hotels in India will be closed. Teams have reserved hotel floors and while the restaurants, gymnasiums etc. are restricted to the team members only, the team room is the only place where cricketers can unwind.

Immediately after the IPL ends on May 30, the Indian team leaves for England to play the World Test Championship final from June 18-22 and then follow it up with a five-Test series against host England.

The Indian team then returns home and starts preparation for the T20 World Cup.

If the pandemic doesn’t subside, the bio-bubble life may have to continue till the end of the year. (IANS)

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