The year 2020 has been about ‘playing the waiting game’, as cricket commentators would put it. There was a point when there was no sport at all, and we waited for some sport to return – football did. Then, we waited for international cricket to return – it did. We waited for the IPL announcement too – it happened. We as fans, and the players have waited to get into the nets and train – that happened too. Slowly, and surely, all the waiting is coming to an end. The Rajasthan Royals boys cleared their 6-day quarantine period and burst out of their cocoons into their natural habitat, as the first session of training in the UAE commenced. We believe you’d like to know how it all went.

The boys had to maintain social distancing on the team bus, wearing masks, as they reached the ICC Academy in Dubai. The training was scheduled to begin at 7:30 PM UAE time. The first day was always supposed to be light for the boys, so that their bodies could ease into what lies ahead.

Zubin Bharucha, Head of Cricket at the Royals got the boys together in a circle on the grass and shared a few words of motivation to get things going. It’s always a pleasure to hear Zubin talk. To all the boys, he said, “You are not here to just participate in a tournament, you are here to win it". 

The senior players in the Rajasthan Royals camp, Jaydev Unadkat, Sanju Samson & Robin Uthappa had a few words of motivation for the boys too. There are a bunch of young stars who will be playing their first IPL season, and listening to some of the achievers of the tournament talk before training, was the best way to kickstart it.

A warm-up session followed the group talk. Players did a few runs, stretches and also paired up to use bands. All of them looked in fine shape; they were training hard even during the quarantine period in the hotel. After a good 30 minutes or so of warming up, the batsmen went away to pad up for the first nets session of the trip.

All the key batsmen in the squad brought out their kits, with multiple bats of course. Robin, Sanju, Riyan, Manan, Mahipal, Shashank, Anuj and Yashasvi were the ones all set to take guard. The bowling contingent included many of the net bowlers and our spinners – Shreyas, Mayank & Rahul.

The fast bowlers, who have arguably the toughest work-load through a tournament, stuck to light fielding drills on the opening day of training. JD, Ankit, Akash & Kartik were loosening up their bodies as much as possible. They will be seen bowling in the coming days.

The players were full of energy and enthusiasm, as they were waiting for this moment for months. They were giving in their 100 percent in the nets. Rajasthan Royals are one of the first two teams to begin training in the UAE. Over the next few days, the boys will take part in a few more training sessions and we will also have an intra-squad practice match once everyone is in their groove.