A team might consist of numbered players but in order to convert them into a successful force, there are backstage factors which drive the show, maintain the zeal and encourage to push the boundaries. Sharing such a story Anis Sajan, popularly known as Mr. Cricket in UAE, was in a conversation with the CEO of Punjab Kings Mr. Satish Menon on this week’s episode of Cricket Unplugged. The duo discussed the changes in Punjab’s team, upcoming IPL tour and impact of COVID on the pleasures of cricket as a sport. 

The change in nomenclature of Kings XI Punjab to Punjab Kings has largely been seen as a complete rejuvenation of brand. As Mr. Menon proclaimed that the emphasis is on Punjab as a whole state thus making the team unique in its complete representation of the state identity. He further added that as the series would unfold and with time, audiences can also expect a change in content building, demeanor and characteristic of the team. 

Discussing the players and upcoming or rather re-initiated IPL season in September based out of Dubai, the pair noted the comfort for players and teams alike when playing in UAE. Apart from that, Punjab Kings’ stars Harpreet and team captain KL Rahul’s performance and style of playing also took the center stage of the conversation. Both are strong and diverse players are twin pillars. Their individual performances and team enthusiasm has pushed coach Anil Kumble to gain momentum from the start. The team faces a difficult challenge of winning five out of six play outs scheduled next month in order to qualify for matches. 

Commenting on the importance of infrastructure and team support to win games, Mr. Anis Sajan said, “It is crucial for teams to have a support system backing them and I think Punjab Kings has a fantastic locker room zeal. KL Rahul has been in form if we look at the England versus India test series and coupled with that Punjab has some superb spinners. The pandemic may have set things off in a different direction last year but the players seem to be coming back with renewed enthusiasm and efforts. The overall team looks in good shape and with a neat strategy, they surely can go a long way.”

The IPL season last year was terminated due to COVID cases propping in some players. This came as a disappointment to the cricket fraternity and more so, the fans. Hence, this year with the matches being played in UAE and return of the season, players and teams are pumped up to give in their hundred percent without any slacks. Discussing the larger impact of COVID on the game, Mr. Menon commented “That was a huge setback to our plans and hard work. COVID pandemic has left the cricket grounds empty and to be honest there is no fun in playing without the presence of our audiences. The audiences are the reason that the game is loved and especially crowds in UAE and India seem to live for the rush which comes from supporting your teams and rooting for their win. It is important that the we get back to normal as soon as possible because presence of audience also boosts moral for our players, them being aware that they are playing for a larger cause than themselves.”

The IPL season is all set to begin in Dubai from September 19, 2021. 

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