Source : The Times of India, Last updated : 15 May 2019,8:49 am

From IPL to World Cup: Just how tired will Indian cricketers be?

From IPL to World Cup: Just how tired will Indian cricketers be?
MUMBAI: "Some of us don't want to see a cricket bat for a few days," a member of the Indian team had confessed just before the 1992 World Cup. Considering that Mohammad Azharuddin and Co. had just come through a gruelling tour of Australia, where they'd played five Tests and a long-winding ODI tri-series, the player's comment was understandable.

ICC World Cup 2019 Schedule


In 2019, you would fear similar noises may be coming from the Indian camp. The players are gearing up for the World Cup after taking part in another rigorous edition of the IPL. That means they've played 14 to 17 games over the last month and a half, which involved non-stop 'Bharat darshan'.

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The image of a Mahendra Singh Dhoni sleeping at the airport lounge while travelling with his Chennai Super Kings teammates tells the story. Battle-weary cricketers are barely able to catch a wink or two given their unforgiving schedule in the IPL.

More than physical fatigue, players tend to tire mentally. No wonder some cricketers, who also have mandatory sponsor commitments before they board the flight to England, appear jaded. Ironically, exactly a decade back, it was in England itself that the challenges of the IPL were first exposed. In the summer of 2009, MS Dhoni and Co, looking weary after IPL-2 in South Africa, failed to defend their World T20 crown in sorry fashion, crashing out in the Super 8 stage.

While India have done better in big tournaments post the IPL since then, winning the Champions Trophy in 2013 and reaching the final of CT in 2017, concerns over Indian players' workload this time around are genuine. Despite the BCCI's assurances to the media that it was in talks with franchisees over India's World Cup-bound players' workloads, there was little evidence of this happening in IPL-12. Even the fast bowlers, who are the most vulnerable to picking up injuries, were not spared the grind.

"It'll be a completely different format. The bowlers will need to bowl 10 overs, and not four. They'll have to adapt to the ODI format quickly. They'll need to change their mindset from T20 to the ODI format. They have to get into the ODI mode," said former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar on the World Cup. To make things more challenging, the format this time is similar to that of the 1992 World Cup - all 10 teams playing each other in the league stage, followed by the semis and the final. To win the Cup, a team will have to consistently do well over 13 games, a task that requires one to be mentally and physically fit and turned on all the time.

However, a key member of Indian cricket's set-up rubbished concerns that fatigue may affect the team's chances, especially as their first game is only on June 5 against South Africa at Southampton - almost 24 days after the IPL final on May 12.

"There's enough gap between the IPL and the World Cup. As a cricketer, it helps if you keep playing, rather than look to perform straightaway after returning from a break," he said, before assuring that the team management has zero fitness concerns at the moment.

"All our players are experienced, fit and playing well. We didn't make them undertake the yo-yo tests this time because they've just played in the IPL. At the moment, Kedar Jadhav (who was injured while playing for the Chennai Super Kings and ruled out of the playoffs) too seems to be recovering well at the National Cricket Academy (NCA). He's already begun training.

"Some of the players whose teams were knocked out before the playoffs have got a few days of extra rest. Since their wives are allowed for a 21-day window, there are no worries on the issue of homesickness," he said.

Those who have been a part of this set-up, and have seen the players from close quarters, are confident the team will be fresh for the big one. "I don't think the Indian players will suffer from burnout. Ab woh zamana chala gaya (that time is gone). Now, they're all fit. They get top physios and trainers in both IPL and the Indian team," said former India wicketkeeper and chief selector Kiran More.

As the Mumbai Indians' wicketkeeping coach, More has a fair idea of how teams help players recover from game fatigue and jet lag due to non-stop shuttling across cities. "We carry two physios, trainers, masseurs and doctors, and they're busy with the team till 2am in the night. So, the players are managed well," he assured.


Thanks to the IPL, unlike England and Australia, India didn't even have a pre-World Cup camp. More, though, feels that in modern-day sport, preparatory camps are a slightly outdated concept. "Earlier, the camps were meant for cricketers to work primarily on their fitness. Nowadays, the cricketers are fit enough. All the IPL franchises manage cricketers professionally. Two weeks is enough time to gel as a team."


Perhaps India will lack the advantage that Pakistan, already in England for an ODI series against the hosts, and the West Indies - playing in Ireland - are enjoying. In that context, the practice games against New Zealand and Bangladesh is of vital importance.


"It's good that India are going early to England and playing a few practice games. 15 days is enough to recover from the IPL and gel as a team," said veteran wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel.


Will players carry their good/bad form in the IPL to the World Cup too? "We're happy that 80% of the Indian team is in form," said chief selector MSK Prasad. "The fact that they're coming from so many pressure situations and nail-biting finishes is a good thing." More added: "Good form in the IPL does matter." The sole concern in that respect is chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who was dropped by KKR for poor form.
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