'This IPL would be very interesting to see how the players are thinking.'
Chennai Super Kings' star all-rounder Suresh Raina believes the upcoming Indian Premier League, to be played in the UAE amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will pose a lot of new challenges for the players, and clarity of thought would be key for a player to succeed.
The IPL this year has been shifted to the UAE because of the pandemic and will be held in three venues -- Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah -- from September 19 to November 10 amid COVID-19 protocols laid down by the ICC and BCCI.
"This IPL would be very interesting to see how the players are thinking," Raina said in a webinar after being named as the global brand ambassador for WTF Sports app.
"You are playing in different circumstances and you have a lot of protocol from ICC and at the same time you are going to go through (COVID-19) tests every two-three weeks."
According to BCCI's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the Indian players and support staff will have to return negative for COVID-19 at least five times before they start training in the UAE and subsequently will be tested every fifth day during the IPL.
"So, I would say coming out from all those tests you need to be clear with your head on what you are going to do on the field because at the end of the day when you are playing a sport, you need to enjoy the game," Raina said.
Insisting that fitness would be key to success after being struck at home since March due to the pandemic, Raina said he was eagerly waiting for the tournament to begin.
"In this pandemic, a lot of challenges have happened (for the players) and fitness is the key. Luckily, we are going early to the UAE.
"I believe, this all tests will be done before the IPL and we will be in a good frame of mind because we all are sitting at home from last five months and it will be interesting to see how we fare on the field," he said.
"Everyone is going to enjoy the game and when you will enjoy the game you will have the best sporting event. I'm looking forward to it."
Raina feels the good thing about conducting the tournament in UAE is hassle-free logistics between venues.
"The best thing in Dubai is that you don't have logistical problems. It is 45 minutes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. You go from there (Dubai) to Sharjah, it's 40 mins.
"In a way, we will have more rest and more time to plan our things and we know how to overcome the challenge," said Raina, who has played 193 IPL games and amassed 5386 runs.
The 33-year-old CSK veteran believes pitches in the UAE are similar to Chennai and it augurs well for the team.