IPL 2021 suspended: ‘It was challenging to play IPL amid COVID,’ says RR’s Jaydev Unadkat after returning home – For many, IPL 2021 should have been postponed long before with India struggling with COVID-19 surge. Many overseas players including Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye and Liam Livingstone left India for different reasons but for all of them, it was difficult to play cricket when the country was grappling with the second wave with thousands dying every day. For Rajasthan Royals’ Jaydev Unadkat, it was difficult too but he carried on until the BCCI decided to suspend the tournament indefinitely and sent the players home. Unadkat, who returned home, said it was challenging with many players’ family members and relatives testing positive for the virus outside the bio-bubble.
“There was not much to talk about apart from what’s happening outside the bubble, but it was challenging. We were looking at the positives. The RR management tried their best to keep us in a positive frame of mind. They kept sending us messages all the time that they were there for us in case we needed anything. RR even hired some sports psychologists with whom we could talk online about any problem,” Jaydev Unadkat told News18.
“The management said that option was available, in case the players needed. I did not need to talk to any psychologist. Since I was travelling with my wife, it made life easier for me as I had company in my room. Being in the room together was always better than being alone. Other players were keeping each other company and trying to stay sane,” he added.
IPL 2021 suspended: Jaydev Unadkat relieved to be back home
However, despite all the facilities and safety that BCCI and IPL franchises ensured for the players inside the bubble, the Saurashtra pacer said he was relieved to be back home and be with the family in such a tough time.
“It’s true that I can now meet my family members. Having said that, since we (players) have come back home, we still do not go out of the houses. It is still not safe to go outside. We do have our families to look after. We are in the family bubble now. We are planning to do that for a few more days – not go out as much as possible. It does feel a little safe that we are in the family. Mentally, you feel safe and secure because everyone that you love closely is around you,” Jaydev Unadkat said.
IPL 2021 suspended: ‘We felt safe inside IPL’s bio-bubble,’ Unadkat says
Like other players, Jaydev Unadkat said he felt safer inside IPL’s bio-bubble. But even with strict restrictions, there were lapses that led to KKR’s Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier testing positive while DC’s Amit Mishra too contracted the virus. In CSK, staff members and two coaching staff were infected as well. Unadkat said the IPL governing council and franchises did well to keep the players safe and it was unfortunate that even then many inside the bubble tested positive.
“To be honest, it felt safe there in the Rajasthan Royals bio-bubble. The way things were going outside the bubble, and because it is difficult to travel and maintain those kinds of bubbles, the cases that came were obviously unfortunate. I still feel it was fair on their (IPL governing body) part to try to work it out. As players, we were in that together (IPL being suspended indefinitely). Everyone was on board with it. We also felt it was the only option they had at that point and that was all that they could explore. The way things were going, we felt quite safe and they were trying their best,” Jaydev Unadkat said.
“The bubble in the UAE was similar to what we had just now. Just because there were less cases outside the bubble in the UAE, the bubble was even more intact. Here, we had more cases outside the bubble, which made it difficult for them. It cannot be 100 per cent foolproof anywhere. Am not an expert as to how the cases happened in the four IPL teams or what went wrong,” he said.
“In the UAE, we were told to follow the restrictions. Here also, we were told to follow the same restrictions. We were following the restrictions there and we followed them here as well. In hindsight, they say travelling by air may have been the cause for the cases. One can never be sure. All the travelling we did in the UAE was by road,” Undakat added.
As for his performance, the Rajasthan Royals pacer impressed with his skills, bagging four wickets in four matches and keeping the batsmen guessing. He said the performance boosted his performance.
“Whatever game time I got, I was bowing well. Maybe I would have loved a couple of more games but that is how it is, that’s how the team combination is. I was happy with the way I was bowling. I think I am in a good headspace as well. The couple of games I played well will definitely boost my confidence and help me take it forward,” he said.