IPL in UAE: Why Siddarth Kaul of Sunrisers Hyderabad is happy to be in Dubai

Dubai: Amid rising COVID-19 cases in India and the subsequent shifting of Indian Premier League (IPL) to Dubai this year, one player from the Sunrisers Hyderabad is really happy.

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Right-arm medium pacer Siddarth Kaul said he feels safe as a cricketer to be playing in Dubai, a city that has done much to keep its citizens, residents and visitors safe against the virus.

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Sunrisers are an IPL franchise team based in Hyderabad, Telangana. The franchise are owned by Kalanithi Maran of the Sun TV Network and was founded in 2012 after the Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers were terminated by the IPL.

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“The UAE has done much for its people in terms of containing the spread of the virus — whether it is conducting regular COVID-19 tests or laying down stringent rules and regulations,” said Kaul.

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Kaul, 30, who has been with other IPL teams such as Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, said the cricketers are being looked after really well. “We are staying in a bubble and I am really happy the way we are being looked after at the hotel. Being in the bubble has been good for us as we have a responsibility to the team, the game of cricket and our fans. We are all respecting this.” He and his team have put up at the Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort.

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Kaul — who started his cricketing career in 1996 under the influence of his father, Dr. Tej Kaul, a former physiotherapist for the national Indian cricket team — said the UAE was the right choice to host the IPL as it is one of the safest places in the world to be in amid a pandemic. “Internationally, there is a whole lot of faith in the UAE when it comes to its values and practices to protects its people and visitors into the country against the coronavirus.”

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Kaul said Sunrisers are not allowed to go out of their rooms unless they are meeting co-players in a team room, following strict social distancing rules. There is a dedicated recreation room with indoor board games. Part of a private beach has been cordoned off for the team’s use. “Besides, we all meet at the ground for practice sessions,” he said.

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Favourite hotspots in Dubai

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Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are Kaul’s favourite places to visit when in Dubai. “I have made several visits to Dubai and these two are my hotspots. I have shopped in these malls a number of times.”

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The story behind his headband?

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“A guru who I admire, and one who taught me many things in life, told me that I should wear this. So I started wearing it and it started getting lucky for me. I started in domestic cricket with a white band. It clicked, and then he told me I should wear a red band,” said Kaul.

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The cricketer said he is not a fussy eater. But when it comes to his favourite dish, he said it is his mother’s home-cooked meal that goes down best for him. “I miss her rajma chaval and rogan josh or rogan gosht — an aromatic curried meat dish. My father is Punjabi and mother is Kashmiri and her biryani is the best that I have eaten. Having said that, I am enjoying the food at the hotel here too. I am not one to complain about food. I think people in general should be grateful for their meal every day. I am too. If there is a little salt missing, I don’t really notice it so much.”

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“I cannot wait for the tournament to begin. I know I will do well,” said a confident Kaul.

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The bio-secure IPL begins on September 19. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will face Chennai Super Kings in the opening match of the T20 event in Abu Dhabi at 6pm.

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