Kings XI Punjab batsman Mayank Agarwal was neither apprehensive about getting back to the nets nor is he ‘cribbing’ about the strict bio-bubble guidelines in place for the IPL as he feels getting to play amid a pandemic “beats everything”.
His KXIP skipper K L Rahul and India skipper Virat Kohli have spoken about the apprehensions they had about getting back in the nets after a five-month break, probably the longest in their careers, but it was not the case with India’s Test opener.
“There were no apprehensions as such. I just did not put high expectations on myself when I went into practice. It was just more about trying to get back to where I left off. I did not look to judge myself in the first three-four net sessions,” Agarwal told PTI from Dubai.
‘Getting back to my batting rhythm’
The 29-year-old from Bengaluru said the KXIP head coach Anil Kumble has been slowly building up the intensity of the sessions.
“Physically, yes, I am [back to best] but skill-wise it would take a few more sessions. It is just about getting your batting rhythm back and things will start flowing again. It is pretty hot in here also so trying to get accustomed to the climate by training in peak hours,” said Agarwal.
Upon arrival in the UAE, all KXIP players went into a six-day quarantine and after returning three negative tests last week, they were allowed to enter the tournament’s bio-bubble and start training.
The players and officials, who can’t invite anyone in their room for the entire duration of the IPL and have to wear a bluetooth band so that their movements can be tracked, face strict action for breaching the bio-secure protocol.
How was being confined to a hotel room for six days?
“It is what it is and I did not find it very challenging. You’ll rather be in a quarantine and in a bubble and play rather than crib about it and not play. That is how I have been looking at it.
“It has not been too hard. I was training twice a day during those days. Spent sometime opening up the body. KXIP (management) also arranged team bonding stuff online and made sure we did not feel left alone in quarantine.”
‘I thoroughly enjoyed the lockdown period’
His time in lockdown was spent learning how to cook and gardening.
“I thoroughly enjoyed that. Did a lot of gardening, planted a lot of fruit trees watching them grow was a great feeling,” Agarwal recalled fondly.
KL Rahul, who was exceptional for KXIP at the top in the previous two seasons, has been appointed the captain for this season and Agarwal said his Karnataka mate already has the full backing of the players.
“We have a top quality squad this year. It is going to be a different experience for him (Rahul), leading an IPL franchise for the first time. I am very happy that he has got Anil bhai, Chris (Gayle) and Maxi (Glenn Maxwell), a lot of experience in the squad, to help him out in case he needs it.”