World news – 165 days and counting: The Indian players’ bio-bubble journey continues, but Rahane says, « We are family. »

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Among the eleven players, three players who are not represented in the limited-overs lineup spend an additional 33 days in an environment with no access to the outside world.

Published: February 03, 2021 23:10 |

Last updated: February 03, 2021, 11:14 pm

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CHENNAI: Eleven of the 22 players who are part of the Indian squad for the tests against England entered a bio-safe bubble at the end of August. They are now in their third, having spent a total of 165 days with a five to six day break in between.

Among the eleven there will be three – Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha – who are not in the Limited- Overs constellations are represented, spend another 33 days in an environment that has no access to the outside world. The other nine will have another 53 days before being able to step off the roster for a week if they are part of the limited-overs team. After that, they will return to their respective IPL teams in another bubble.

In the « Kutti Story » episodes that Ashwin filmed on his YouTube channel, the aspect of bubble life – pros and cons – was that he mentioned can hardly be overlooked. They knew where it came from, especially how he interviewed those making fun of their demands for pool and common area access in Sydney and Brisbane. Mind you, he had a family in Australia, but even then found it difficult to avoid restricted mobility. It’s a strange place to be, especially when you’re an athlete who spends as many days as Indian cricketers in a bio-bubble with every movement monitored. They have been told to have healing properties by making few sacrifices. Some of them, like Ashwin, seem to be changed people seeing the happy things after Covid-19 disrupted normal life.

Here they are again. Preparing for another grueling series at home. While it could be argued that they usually limit themselves to hotel rooms while playing in India, if a test ends within five days, they take the first flight home. Even if it’s only 24 hours, players make sure they’re making the most of the family time available. That won’t be possible this time. Take Ashwin, Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Saha, Virat Kohli, and Hardik Pandya, who are parents of toddlers and children in preschool and school. They just have to get by with Facetime.

That they didn’t do a great shade in Australia and cried about it spoke volumes about their mental hardship. Instead of sulking, not only have they shown a brave face, but they have played outstanding cricket, with few saying how lucky it is to be playing instead of sitting at home. It gave them the opportunity to be together. A common room with ping pong table, PlayStation and other board games is their go-to place if they are bored with Neflix and Amazon.

Teams around the world are aware that this can affect the mental health of players. England, for example, are switching players, allowing them to go home and live outside the bubble to come back fresh. Indians cannot afford any of this. If anything, they’ve only gotten more determined. « We’re not mentally tired at all, » Rahane said on Wednesday of life under the bladder. “We’re mentally very tough. We are one unit, one family. We enjoy each other’s company here. We spend time in the team room. Our families are here, which is really important. So we are not tired at all. “

During their six-day quarantine in Chennai, the players had few machines in their hotel room to work on their fitness. With their elevated parameters now spanning a two-kilometer run, they know that this is non-negotiable and that they will be in a good room too. Every now and then the support staff give them days off, which sometimes even surprised the players. It’s something that will be wide and frequent throughout this series, especially considering that there is only a week’s break between the England series and the start of the IPL.

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